Energy-saving smart glass is already present on the market in form of windows that can be tinted electronically to block the sun’s hot rays. This reduces the need to run air-conditioning systems. However, the smart glass still requires electricity to operate. Scientists from Australia’s RMIT University have developed a coating that allows the existing glass to become smart without the use of any power.
The coating is composed of vanadium dioxide and is only 50-150 nanometers thick, which is 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. Vanadium dioxide acts as an insulator below the temperature of 67 degrees Celsius and helps in keeping the indoor heat from escaping through the glass. It allows the full spectrum of light to enter from the outside. It transforms into a metal when the temperature goes above 67 and blocks the heat-causing infrared solar radiation from entering.
This keeps the rooms warmer at lower temperatures and cooler at higher temperatures and saves on both heating and air-conditioning systems. The users can also override the ray-blocking effect using a dimmer switch. To apply Vanadium dioxide coatings in the past, special layers or platforms had to be created on the surface but the RMIT team has developed a method to apply these coating directly to the surface without any platforms.
“Our technology will potentially cut the rising costs of air-conditioning and heating, as well as dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of buildings of all sizes,” says lead scientist Prof. Madhu Bhaskaran. “Solutions to our energy crisis do not come only from using renewables; smarter technology that eliminates energy waste is absolutely vital.”
Once this technology is commercialized it will play a huge role in cutting down the use of electricity currently being used by heating and air-conditioning systems.