New “Smart Windows” Will Control Heat and Light


Short Bytes : Windows are a significant part of our homes, and with our homes getting smarter, it’s time to make our windows smarter too. The most basic role of windows in our homes is to let fresh air and light inside but imagine if you had options for these things. Suppose it’s a sunny day, you need light to come in but don’t want the heat outside to step in. With your normal window, you don’t have any option other than to close it, but the upcoming smart windows of our smart age bestow you the control to regulate the heat and the light entering your home.

Researchers have successfully created new materials that let windows to allow light enter without transferring heat and conversely, from outside to inside and vice-versa.

It was for the first time in 2013 that a professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas namely, Delia Milliron along with her team led to the invention of electrochromic materials that blend two materials to provide a selective control of visible and heat-generating near- infrared light (NIR).

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The group demonstrated that a nano-crystal material could be switched back and forth by using a small jolt of electricity, which in return enables an independent control of light and energy. And this time, the group has escalated the research work by introducing two new advancements in the electrochromic materials- a highly efficient and selective cool and warm mode. This was never thought ever before that a window could be used to regulate the heat entering through it. With the rising mercury, the introduction of this mode is a good step. Moreover, it will be helping to commercialize the product in a momentous manner. Noticeably, it enables the control of 90 percent of NIR and 80 percent of the visible sunlight and gladly, it takes just few minutes to switch between the modes.


These smart windows can be foreseen as an impressive idea to reduce energy costs for cooling buildings and homes during summer time. In another study, the team has described that they can achieve optical control properties in a window from a well-crafted, single component film.

Also read: A $400,000 Super Helmet That Sees Through Walls

Then, coming to the warm mode: a simple coating can create the warm mode, in which visible light can be blocked while the infrared radiations can enter freely. This can be exalting on a winter day when you want the warmth to seep in while avoiding the sunlight.

In the study regarding the smart windows published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the team evinced that a coating consisting of a single-component doped titania nanocrystals is capable to to depict a dynamic control over the transmittance of solar radiations. Moreover, because of the two different charging mechanisms, which can be obtained only at two distinct applied voltages, this material is capable of selectively blocking the visible or infrared radiations.

Source: University of Texas at Austin

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Pragati Verma

Pragati Verma

An amateur blogger interested in science, space and things around me.
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