Solar smart windows could be the next thing for green energy
Imagine controlling the transparency of your windows while simultaneously producing energy for your home. This is exactly what engineers at the University of Maryland had in mind when they came up with the “solar smart windows.”
A general consensus seems to be building around using solar panels at least as a way of reducing the carbon footprint of a building if not going off the grid completely. But while some appreciate the green energy produced by solar panels, other are put off by their industrial design. Start-ups have started looking at ways to camouflage the solar panels so they fit in with the general decor of the building but now engineers are starting to explore new pathways.
Scientists from the University of Maryland came up with a new way of generating green energy, using something that all the buildings have and need, windows. And they put a twist on their power generating windows by allowing owners to control their transparency.
Engineers have come up with self-powered “smart solar windows”. Practically, they have created a new smart window that can turn opaque on demand and even power other devices.
All this is thanks to polymer dispersed liquid crystals, coupled to a semiconducting absorber, which can switch between highly transmissive and highly scattering states while simultaneously generating power. By applying a voltage across the liquid crystals layer, the device switches from an opaque, light scattering structure, to a clear, transparent window.
The liquid crystals can act like a shutter or blinders, offering privacy, dim lighting and can come in handy for temperature control. Since the power used is small, the windows are able to power themselves while also providing electricity for other home devices.