New Spray on Coating Creates Smart Windows

Developed by researchers at RMIT, these coatings block heat and conduct electricity.

Aug 27, 2020

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You’ve  probably heard about smart houses that are run by computers but have you heard of smart windows? While all windows allow you to see outside, energy saving smart windows allow you to regulate how you interact between the inside and outside environment.

Now, a new spray-on clear coating developed by Royal Melbourne Institute University of Technology (RMIT) in Australia works like a smart window by blocking heat and conducts electricity but at a significant lower cost according to a university news release.

The coatings are ultra-thin – over 100 times thinner than human hair – and compete with the performance of current industry standards for this technology which combines the best properties of glass and metals in one component. Coatings are used in smart windows, touchscreen displays, LED lighting and solar panel technology.

The process the scientists used is called "ultrasonic spray pyrolysis" and fabricates smooth, uniform coatings of high optical and electrical quality.

The best news is that it is scalable and based on cheaper materials that are easy to obtain. This will bring down the cost of energy saving windows and could make it a building standard for new construction and window refits according to lead investigator Dr Enrico Della Gaspera who is a senior lecturer at RMIT. The study was published in Advanced Materials Interfaces.

“Smart windows and low-E glass can help regulate temperatures inside a building, delivering major environmental benefits and financial savings, but they remain expensive and challenging to manufacture,” said Della Gaspera in the news release.

The researchers made the transparent electrodes that are used in this technology out of tin oxide and a combination of chemicals to enhance conductivity as well as transparency instead of indium a rare and expensive element, according to Lab Manager.

The New York Empire State building transitioned to smart windows in 2011 as part of a renewal project and received LEED Gold certification for an existing building. The reported energy savings has been $2.4 million and cut carbon emissions by almost 4,409 US tons.

The next steps are to develop precursors that will decompose at lower temperatures that will allow the coatings to be used on more substances and to develop larger prototypes by scaling up.

“The ultimate aim is to make smart windows much more widely accessible, cutting energy costs and reducing the carbon footprint of new and retrofitted buildings,” Gaspera said in the press release.

With increased demand for energy efficiency and cost savings, the future of windows could be smart and this new spray on coating could pave the way.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.