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NTU invents smart window that tints and powers itself

Zafirah Salim | Dec. 18, 2014
The self-tinting window requires only oxygen to tint, which helps in adjusting the amount of sunlight allowed into a building.

Scientists from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a smart window that can darken or brighten without the need for an external power source.

This self-tinting window also doubles up as a rechargeable battery, whereby the window's stored energy can be used for other purposes, such as to light up low-powered electronics like a light emitting diode (LED).

Unlike existing window solutions in the market which are either permanently tinted or require an external power source to change its light transmission properties, NTU's latest breakthrough requires only the presence of oxygen to tint and charge the glass.

The NTU smart window contains liquid electrolyte placed in between two glass sheets coated with indium tin oxide (ITO). One sheet is coated with an additional layer of a pigment known as Prussian Blue, while the other is attached to a thin strip of aluminium foil. When fully charged, the Prussian Blue gives the glass a blue tint.

The two glass sheets are connected by electrical cables, which enable the window to become clear when the switch is turned on, and blue when it is turned off. Such technology can adjust the amount of sunlight coming into buildings in the day, which translates to significant savings on cooling and lighting costs.

"Our new smart electrochromic window charges up and turns blue when there is oxygen present in the electrolyte - in other words, it breathes," elaborated NTU's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering professor Sun Xiaowei, who led this research.

He added that this technology is very attractive as a zero-sum consumption window. "Buildings owners and even common households can reap energy savings right from the outset and over the long term," he said.

In its media statement, the NTU team said that they are currently enhancing the invention and hopes to collaborate with industry partners to commercialise their technology.


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