The field of dynamic windows has seen significant advancements in recent years, with researchers continuously striving to develop materials that offer greater control over transparency and energy efficiency. In an exciting breakthrough, a team of scientists has demonstrated a material for next-generation dynamic windows that can switch between three modes: transparent, infrared-blocking, and tinted. With the ability to manipulate the wavelength of blocked light, this material opens up new possibilities for creating more efficient and versatile windows. This article explores the research conducted by the team and delves into the potential implications of their findings.
Traditionally, dynamic windows based on electrochromism have been limited to two states: clear or dark. However, this new research introduces a different approach, harnessing the power of water to unlock additional possibilities. The researchers discovered that when water is integrated into the crystalline structure of tungsten oxide, forming tungsten oxide hydrate, the material exhibits a previously unknown behavior. Tungsten oxide has long been used in dynamic windows due to its transparency. By applying an electrical signal and injecting lithium ions and electrons into the material, it becomes opaque and blocks light.
A New Mode: Heat Blocking
The groundbreaking aspect of the study lies in the introduction of a new mode in the material’s behavior. Upon injecting lithium ions and electrons, the tungsten oxide hydrate first transitions into a “heat-blocking” phase. In this mode, visible wavelengths of light are allowed to pass through, while infrared light is effectively blocked. Thanks to the presence of water in the crystalline structure, the material becomes less dense and is therefore more resistant to deformation caused by the injection of lithium ions and electrons. This structural resilience enables the material to accommodate more lithium ions before reaching a point of deformation.
With further injection of lithium ions and electrons, the tungsten oxide hydrate undergoes a second transition into a “dark” phase. In this mode, both visible and infrared wavelengths of light are blocked, providing a greater level of light control. The ability to switch between different modes of light absorption offers tremendous potential for future applications in building design and energy-efficient window solutions.
Potential Commercialization and Enhanced Features
The discovery of dual-band light control in a single material has significant implications for the smart windows community. It holds the promise of accelerating the development of commercial products with enhanced features. By expanding the possibilities in light manipulation, this breakthrough can offer architects, engineers, and building owners greater flexibility and control over their window systems. The ability to simultaneously control glare, maintain a clear view, and regulate thermal insulation opens up new opportunities for designing sustainable and comfortable indoor environments.
The research conducted by this team of scientists has unlocked the potential for a new era in dynamic windows. By leveraging the unique properties of tungsten oxide hydrate, they have demonstrated the ability to create windows that can switch between transparent, infrared-blocking, and tinted modes. This breakthrough paves the way for more energy-efficient buildings, improved lighting conditions, and enhanced occupant comfort. As the field of dynamic windows continues to evolve, this research serves as a reminder of the power of innovation and the endless possibilities that lie ahead.