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Science & Technology

'Smart' window could make curtains obselete

By T.K. Randall
March 16, 2016 · Comment icon 13 comments

The new windows could remove the need for blinds or curtains. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Hugh Chevallier
Researchers at Harvard University have developed a way to quickly change the opacity of a glass window.
While we've seen the idea of 'tunable' windows before, previous methods have involved expensive electrochemical reactions which, while effective, aren't much use for building a consumer product.

Now however scientists have come up with a cheaper and more effective alternative that is made from multiple layers of transparent, soft elastomers sprayed with a coating of silver nanowires.

When a voltage is applied the nanowires move towards one another, changing the opacity of the glass to make it clear, cloudy or opaque at the mere flick of a switch.
"Itís like a frozen pond. If the frozen pond is smooth, you can see through the ice," wrote Harvard postdoctoral researcher Samuel Shian. "But if the ice is heavily scratched, you canít see through."

The next step will be to find a way to incorporate thinner elastomers that require lower voltages.

"Because this is a physical phenomenon rather than based on a chemical reaction, it is a simpler and potentially cheaper way to achieve commercial tunable windows," said Prof David Clarke.

Source: First Post | Comments (13)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
That seems pretty cool actually.
Comment icon #5 Posted by highdesert50 7 years ago
Appears to be a different technology than the "smartglass" electric switchable glass that has been around since the mid 90s.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Eldorado 7 years ago
That seems pretty cool actually. I agree but in the right environment. (Plus... how do they look when one is open just a little bit to let a fart escape?)
Comment icon #7 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 7 years ago
Love the way technology advances. Only worried about the price..
Comment icon #8 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
Yeah. New construction with lot's of money, as opposed to old construction which can simply incorporate blinds.
Comment icon #9 Posted by regeneratia 7 years ago
OMG, slow glass!! It is just around the corner. Way to go, shaw. (I say that because recent research is bending light, entangling it, and so on.) Slow glass is my first thought while reading this. Yes, nice for offices but we keep finding new ways to do old things that keep using energy. I know it takes energy to make drapes and curtains, but you know what I mean. Consume, consume, consume!!!
Comment icon #10 Posted by ChaosRose 7 years ago
Cue the conspiracy theories that "they" wanna see behind our blinds.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Codenwarra 7 years ago
Yes, nice for offices but we keep finding new ways to do old things that keep using energy. I know it takes energy to make drapes and curtains, but you know what I mean. Some of the curtains in this house were in it when I moved in, in 1990. They are still in good condition and can be washed in cold water and dry on a back yard clothes line in an hour or so. I will guarantee that the energy required in their production and maintenance over 25 or more years is far less than that involved in production and use of any electrical gizmos added to glass over a similar period. They never go wrong, as... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 7 years ago
I would use those windows in addition to curtains Nice idea, just what i need for balcony i started building on the roof of my house - weird i know
Comment icon #13 Posted by Zalmoxis 7 years ago
I'm not really into this "digitize everything" trend. There is way too much that can go wrong. Your digital clock was hacked, unbeknownst to you, so you find yourself jumping in the shower an hour early. Oops! Your eggs were underdone, hackers again. Damn digital internet stove. Uh oh, why is my suit too tight? I didn't request a modification. Hackers again. Oh well, I will need to call my service provider. Next thing you know your car disregards your manual driving and goes somewhere you definitely do not want to go with you locked inside. Digitalizing everything is for chumps.

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