Smart window developed to block out heat

A smart window has been developed to block out the heat when the temperature rises, meaning air conditioning could become a thing of the past.

Created by scientists from several Chinese institutions, the windows turn opaque white in the heat, which stops warmth from entering the room but still lets in the light. When the temperature falls the window becomes transparent again.

The new windows utilise microscopic hydrogel beads that are suspended in water and alcohol, Photonics Media reports. This solution is sandwiched between two panes of glass and swells less than the current method.

To test their new product the researchers built a house and looked at thermosensitive behaviour and solar modulation ability through techniques such as differential scanning calorimetery, UV-VIS-NIR spectromphotometery, dynamic light scattering and rheology.

The work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, the Higher School Specialized Research Fund and a 111 Project grant and published in the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Samsung is also working on a new smart window that will also act as a computer or TV screen, and a company called View, based in Silicon Valley, is working on windows that can be darkened or lightened remotely via a smartphone, doing away with the need for curtains or blinds. The Dynamic Glass has four different shades of tint and uses electrochromic technology – the change in colour is the result of a small electric current. Projects have already been completed in North America and Germany, mostly for commercial properties.