Spray your smart windows
Spray-on clear coatings to enable cheaper smart windows could be coming our way, thanks to a simple method developed by researchers at RMIT University.
The spray-on coatings, which can block heat and conduct electricity but still allow visible light through, are ultra-thin, cost-effective and rival the performance of current industry standards for transparent electrodes, the scientists claim.
Lead investigator Dr Enrico Della Gaspera said their fast and scalable pioneering approach could be used to substantially bring down the cost of energy-saving windows and potentially make them a standard part of new builds and retrofits. ‘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,’ he said.
The standard approach for manufacturing transparent electrodes is based on indium – a rare and expensive element – and vacuum deposition methods, which are bulky, slow and costly. But RMIT’s researchers used the much cheaper material tin oxide in their testing, spiked with a combination of chemicals to enhance conductivity and transparency.
The ultra-thin transparent coatings, which are over 100 times thinner than a human hair, only allow visible light through, while blocking both harmful UV light and heat in the form of infrared radiation.
‘We’re keen to collaborate with industry to further develop this innovative type of coating. 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.’