Energy Conserving Smart Windows That Change Color Developed By Scientists

A study that was recently published in the journal Chem shows that a new process for manufacturing of color-changing windows that would save energy have been developed by Canadian scientists. They have claimed that the technique is simple and cost-effective.

According to researchers, the needs of the occupants of a building would dictate the color of the smart windows. The windows are able to control the heat and the light from the sun in a dynamic manner and thereby conserve building energy as they automatically switch from being clear to getting tinted.

A new method for creating glass materials that are able to alter color in reaction to electricity has been developed by Cheng Wei who is a postdoctoral at University of British Columbia (UBC).

Cheng said that “electrochromic windows can be electronically tinted or cleared to optimize the daylight and solar heat passing through buildings.”

The processes of heating, ventilating and air conditioning result in loss and waste of about one third of all the energy with the use of conventional windows.

Cheng said that according to an estimation, about 20 per cent of energy consumption can be saved with the use of electrochromic windows.

A special film is used to coat the glass of a smart window. That film is created by depositing alcohol containing metal ions onto the glass and then making use of ultraviolet light to change them into a film. This is the method used by Cheng.

While the film remains transparent in ordinary circumstances and therefore enables a smart window to function like any ordinary window, the film turns into a blue colour when an electric current is passed through them. This ultimately helps in the creation of an element of a smart window.

In terms of pricing, the cost of a smart window is much higher compared o t conventional windows, and in the U.S. such smart window glasses are available at a price range of 500 to 1,000 U.S. dollars per square meter currently.

Currently, the techniques and methods used for manufacturing of smart window glasses requires the application of sophisticated vacuum equipment or high temperatures. The new process developed by Cheng can avoid all of these techniques for the manufacturing of smart windows and therefore this process would result in cheaper compared to the products that are currently available.

“Our technique creates a uniform dynamic coating without the need for special instrumentation,” said Cheng.

Cheng added that they were experimenting with more neutral tints so the windows would go grey instead of blue.

(Adapted from


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