Windows are known for allowing natural light to flow into buildings, accompanied by heat, which is generally countered by air-conditioning, resulting in high energy bills.
In order to help people better conserve energy and reduce electric bills, scientists are working on “smart windows” capable of keeping out heat when temperatures rise and large amounts of natural light floods into homes, apartments, and office buildings.
Xuhong Guo, Kaimin Chen, Yanfeng Gao and colleagues say that researchers are developing smart windows that turn an opaque white to block unwanted heat from entering a building while still allowing light to pass through on hot days.
As it gets cooler outside, the smart windows become transparent again.
Researchers have created a hybrid solution consisting of hydrogels in the form of microscopic soft beads suspended in a liquid that is placed between two pieces of glass in order to keep buildings cool.
So far, the microgel has been successful in tests and could represent a major breakthrough for the future of smart windows.
Previous tests with other hydrogels resulted in the jelly-like materials swelling due to the heat, hindering overall performance.