Smart glass could forever change the way we use windows, potentially eliminating the need for curtains or blinds by allowing us to regulate the amount of sunlight allowed to enter.
This new glass technology has been developed by Keith Goossen, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware, along with colleague Daniel Wolfe.
The new glass created by Goossen can switch between letting light in and blocking it out. The research team’s smart windows would also be an eco-friendly and a cost-effective way to cool and heat buildings.
Similar efforts have been made with other smart glass, but Goossen’s model is much cheaper to manufacture, and it is more reflective and absorbent of light than other versions out there. In fact, this new type of smart glass is actually one-tenth the price of other smart glass technology.
The smart glass is made with two sheets of plastic with a small space between. Goosen’s first designs had tiny cube-shaped structures contained within the plastic and these were used to reflect light back to its source.
The space between the sheets of plastic was then filled with methyl salicylate which is an extract from wintergreen that has optical properties. The methyl salicylate enhanced the reflective capabilities of the plastic sheets.
Recently, Goossen and Wolfe unveiled a new and improved model at the Smart Materials and Nondestructive Evaluation Conference in Denver. The new design used one-dimensional shapes layered perpendicular within the sheets of plastic rather than cubes.
The smart glass can switch back and forth from transparent to blocking out light thousands of times without losing any of its reflective strength.
There is now a good deal of interest and potential with Goossens new technology, and commercialization of the product may happen soon. Meanwhile, Goossen will work to continue to perfect and study the materials used in the glass.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer