Scientists Use AI to Create a Cooling Window Coating

A new transparent window coating can block UV light at any time of the day.

Installing window film to keep the heat out.

(New Africa /

In many regions of the world, windows can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, windows brighten a room, and give occupants a view of the world beyond, on the other hand, they also let in a tremendous amount of heat from the sun.

In fact, 87 percent of heat gains in a given space comes through its windows. This is because UV radiation passes through glass easily, according to New Atlas. To keep out the heat, people used window coverings like blinds or drapes, but that also blocked the view.

A recent study from the University of Notre Dame and Kyung Hee University in Seoul indicates that soon people who love a view but hate the heat will be able to have it both ways. Though not yet scaled up to market, the study presents a new window coating that could let in sunlight and keep out the heat. 

All about angles
Window films and heat-blocking  coatings are not a new concept. In fact, New Atlas reports that the authors of the study themselves pioneered an innovative glass coating in 2020. So what is so exciting about their new 2024 coating? It’s all about the angles.

Tengfei Luo, lead author of the study and the Dorini Family Professor for Energy Studies at the University of Notre Dame, told Notre Dame News, “The angle between the sunshine and your window is always changing. Our coating maintains functionality and efficiency whatever the sun’s position in the sky.”

In other words, according to the news release, because windows are installed vertically, sunlight hits them at different angles throughout the day. If a given coating only blocks UV light at a 90 degree angle, it is only useful at the time of day at which the sun hits the glass at that angle. 
“The angle between the sunshine and your window is always changing,” Luo told New Atlas. “Our coating maintains functionality and efficiency whatever the sun’s position in the sky.”

Quantum Computing
In order to figure out the way to create an optimal window coating, according to Eco Watch, the researchers used a quantum computing assisted AI machine-learning model. Instead of trying to use trial and error, which could take years, the scientists were aided by an interactive computer model that was able to ascertain the correct combination of elements they would need to create an effective coating. 

Using the information the quantum computing program gave them, the researchers devised a coating that can selectively transmit and reflect light over a wide range of angles. Meaning, it can keep a room cool at any given hour of the day, regardless of the angle the sunlight is hitting the window.

“Like polarized sunglasses, our coating lessens the intensity of incoming light, but, unlike sunglasses, our coating remains clear and effective even when you tilt it at different angles,” Luo told Notre Dame News.

There are endless numbers of practical applications for this new window coating, from commercial use to residential use, and even for use in the automotive industry. Whatever the case, it will most certainly lower energy use as people all over the world turn off their air conditioners and electric fans and still enjoy the view. 

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