Engineers develop eco-friendly panels that switch from transparent to opaque
Someday we won’t need curtains or blinds on our windows, and we will be able to block out light–or let it in–with just the press of a button. At least that’s what Keith Goossen, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware, hopes.
Goossen and Daniel Wolfe, who earned a doctoral degree from UD last year, developed panels that can switch between allowing light in and blocking it out. This “smart glass” technology could be utilized in eco-friendly windows, windshields, roof panes and building envelopes, absorbing light and heat in the winter and reflecting it away in the summer.
Although Goossen isn’t the first scientist to make smart glass, his team’s invention is about one-tenth the price of other versions. It is also more transparent in its transparent state and more reflective in its reflective state than competitors, he said.
Goossen shared his latest smart glass prototype on Monday, March 5 in a keynote address at the SPIE Smart Materials and Nondestructive Evaluation for Energy Systems IV conference in Denver.
Simple idea, clear results
The principles behind this smart glass technology are surprisingly simple. It starts with two sheets of plastic separated by a thin cavity. The plastic contains tiny cube-shaped structures that make the material retroreflective, meaning that it bounces light back to its source, like a bicycle reflector does.
Then the chamber is filled with a fluid called methyl salicylate–an inexpensive wintergreen extract that happens to be the active ingredient in some over-the-counter pain relief creams. This liquid has optical properties, or interaction with visible light, that match the optical properties of the retroreflective plastic. When combined, the light can pass through, and the system becomes transparent. This is called refractive index matching.
Goossen’s smart glass system can switch from transparent to reflective a thousand times without degrading, as shown in a paper published late last year in the journal Optics Express.
At this week’s conference, Goossen revealed a new, improved design.
Instead of utilizing cubes, this smart glass relies on the total internal reflection of one-dimensional structures layered perpendicularly. It is highly reflective at up to a 60-degree angle of incidence, an improvement over the previous prototype.
“It performed better than we thought it would based on our theoretical understanding,” he said.
Goossen uses 3-D printing to make his prototypes, but this technology could eventually be manufactured at a high volume and low cost using injection molding. He is now testing his system over a wide range of temperatures to see how it performs, especially as it approaches temperatures that could cause the fluid within to freeze, which will be between 3 and 16 degrees Fahrenheit, depending upon the eventual fluid that is used. Every time Goossen talks to a roomful of engineers about this project, hands go up with lots of questions.
“There is a lot of interest in the capability this might represent,” he said.
Commercialization may eventually follow–something Goossen is already well versed in. An author of 82 issued patents, he founded a startup company in 2001 that was later acquired. He passes his knowledge along to students as a co-teacher of High Technology Entrepreneurship, a course for undergraduate and graduate students that focuses on financial, legal, scientific and engineering issues facing tech startups.
Goossen also encourages students to be curious. This research project started with a hunch, which can be the impetus for scientific discovery.
“Sometimes it’s just an instinct about what might be interesting,” said Goossen.
Learn more: Smart glass made better, and cheaper
The Latest on: Smart glass
- Nanoparticles for improving smart-window energy efficiency on September 18, 2018 at 5:22 pm
U.S. buildings leak an estimated 30 percent of their energy through inefficient windows, costing consumers an estimated $42 billion annually. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Smart Glas... […]
- Logitech K600 TV Keyboard takes the pain out of smart-TV control on September 18, 2018 at 11:50 am
Ah, the old days when smart TVs were nascent ... The K600 works as a regular wireless keyboard with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices, too. The keyboard can be connected to up to three ... […]
- Elizabeth Smart 'very concerned' about kidnapper's release on September 18, 2018 at 9:58 am
Elizabeth Smart, who was 14-years-old when she was kidnapped by a ... Rough cut (no reporter narration). Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy ... […]
- Logitech Launches K600 Keyboard for Smart TVs and HTPC on September 18, 2018 at 9:08 am
Plus, it supports Bluetooth and Unifying connections under Windows, macOS, WebOS, Tizen and Chrome OS. That means it is readily compatible with Samsung and LG smart TVs. Specifically, Samsung Tizen TV... […]
- 9 Smart Home & Health Gadgets to Improve Everyday Life on September 17, 2018 at 10:01 pm
windows equipped with blinds or shades are key. But why adjust each window shade in the house by hand when remote-control shades are affordable and easy to use? Serena shades are the perfect fit for y... […]
- Smart tweets message of remembrance for mother on September 17, 2018 at 8:25 pm
Smart's older brother, Todd ... 1 2 3 4 YOU MAY LIKE Sponsored Links by Microsoft Lenovo IdeaPad 11.6-inch Laptop with Windows 10 for ₹16,502 only Microsoft Find the right Office 365 subscription for ... […]
- Microsoft Monday: How Windows 10 Will Free Up Disk Space, Browser Warning Removed, Lobe Acquisition on September 17, 2018 at 4:04 pm
Recently, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also invested $80 million on a parcel of land in Belmont, Arizona for a rumored smart city program. Warning About Chrome And Firefox Removed Microsoft has dec... […]
- Smart Tech Upgrades to Improve Home Function on September 17, 2018 at 11:03 am
Today, smart devices seamlessly integrate into connected ... Opening skylights in conjunction with vertical windows removes polluted air from the home and promotes an overall healthier lifestyle. […]
- Chime in: What do you think of Windows 10 IoT? on September 17, 2018 at 7:30 am
Windows 10 IoT stands for "Internet of Things," and it's a ... There is a growing, untapped domestic IoT market on the rise, including everything from connected coffee machines to smart speakers. Micr... […]
- How to enhance your Windows desktop on September 17, 2018 at 7:01 am
Surely there’s a helpful middle ground? The smart news is there’s a host of clever, useful, and possibly silly add-ons for Windows that push the desktop to the next level of functionality. We’re going ... […]
via Google News and Bing News