The Tech Herald

Korean boffins create new energy-efficient 'smart glass'

by Steven Mostyn - Sep 28 2011, 13:36

Image: Irargerich/Flickr.

When it comes to energy costs, maximizing efficiency through the type of glass a building uses is often paramount. Bearing that in mind, a team of technology boffins in South Korea have come up with a potentially groundbreaking solution.

According to a report published in the journal ACS Nano, the Korea Electronics Technology Institute and Soongsil University has crafted new “smart” glass with two different modes of function designed to automatically adjust to the seasonal demands of summer and winter.

Specifically, the technology is laced with a charged counterion polymer that darkens the glass in just a few seconds whenever exterior air temperatures become high—therefore keeping interiors nice and cool.

The glass is also able to revert back to complete transparency—again in just a few seconds—during colder climes in order to draw in optimal amounts of heat from the sun.

“This type of light control system may provide a new option for saving on heating, cooling and lighting costs through managing the light transmitted into the interior of a house,” claim the glass-making scientists. 

“Smart windows can prevent the inside of a building from becoming overheated by reflecting away a large fraction of the incident sunlight in summer,” they add. “Alternatively, they can help keep a room warm by absorbing the sun’s heat in winter.”

Although charged ion glass panes with similar properties and effects already exist, they are reportedly more expensive to manufacture and are “chemically unstable” when compared to the new counterion alternative.

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