New smart material when used into windows, sunroofs could control heat and light from sun

New smart material when used into windows, sunroofs could control heat and light from sun

A Nature Materials-published research paper has unveiled about the creation of a new flexible smart window material. This material if used into windows, sunroofs or curved glass surfaces will provide the power to control both heat and light from the sun.

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin said that their work acts as a new low-temperature process to coat smart material on plastic making it easier and cost-effective when compared with normal coating done on the glass only.

Study’s lead researcher Delia Milliron and team have developed the material using a rare kind of nanostructure. When compared with a coating produced by normal high-temperature process, the new material increases the efficiency of the coloration process by two times.

The new electrochromic material has an amorphous structure. There is a unique style of arrangement of the atoms in a linear, chain-like structure. As per the researchers, the new material is twice as energy efficient as the conventional material.

Milliron said that not much is known about amorphous materials. “But, we were able to characterize with enough specificity what the local arrangement of the atoms is, so that it sheds light on the differences in properties in a rational way”, affirmed Milliron.

Study’s co-author Graeme Henkelman said that in comparison with crystalline materials, it is more difficult to determine the atomic structure for amorphous materials. In the study, the researchers have used a mix of techniques and measurements to find an atomic structure consistent with experiment and theory.

Next task taken by the researchers is to develop a flexible material using the low-temperature process. The researchers said that they want to check if they can combine best performance and the new low-temperature processing strategy.

According to a story published on the topic by News.UTexas., "The research team is an international collaboration, including scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and CNRS in France, and Ikerbasque in Spain. Researchers at UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences provided key theoretical work."

Milliron and her team’s low-temperature process generates a material with a unique nanostructure, which doubles the efficiency of the coloration process compared with a coating produced by a conventional high-temperature process. It can switch between clear and tinted more quickly, using less power.

"The new smart glass could be incorporated into windows, sunroofs, or even curved glass surfaces and will have the ability to block or let light pass through the surface With the invention of new flexible window material, window shades or blinds will soon become a thing of the past," according to a recent I4U News report.

The thing that sets the new smart material apart from the existing ones is that it is applied to plastic. Coating a material on plastic makes it cost efficient and lighter than conventional smart materials which are needed to apply to glass surfaces. The technology will allow consumers to block some or all with just small electric charge and help save billions of dollars on cooling, heating and lighting costs.

A report published in PDD Net informed, "At the heart of the team's study is their rare insight into the atomic-scale structure of the amorphous materials, whose disordered structures are difficult to characterize. Because there are few techniques for characterizing the atomic-scale structure sufficiently enough to understand properties, it has been difficult to engineer amorphous materials to enhance their performance."

"There's relatively little insight into amorphous materials and how their properties are impacted by local structure," Milliron said. "But, we were able to characterize with enough specificity what the local arrangement of the atoms is, so that it sheds light on the differences in properties in a rational way."

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