Switchable Materials for Smart Windows

by Wang, Y; Runnerstrom, EL: Milliron, DJ

Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Jun 7 2016; doi: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-080615-034647

This article reviews the basic principles of and recent developments in electrochromic, photochromic, and thermochromic materials for applications in smart windows. Compared with current static windows, smart windows can dynamically modulate the transmittance of solar irradiation based on weather conditions and personal preferences, thus simultaneously improving building energy efficiency and indoor human comfort. Although some smart windows are commercially available, their widespread implementation has not yet been realized. Recent advances in nanostructured materials provide new opportunities for next-generation smart window technology owing to their unique structure-property relations. Nanomaterials can provide enhanced coloration efficiency, faster switching kinetics, and longer lifetime. In addition, their compatibility with solution processing enables low-cost and high-throughput fabrication. This review also discusses the importance of dual-band modulation of visible and near-infrared (NIR) light, as nearly 50% of solar energy lies in the NIR region. Some latest results show that solution-processable nanostructured systems can selectively modulate the NIR light without affecting the visible transmittance, thus reducing energy consumption by air conditioning, heating, and artificial lighting.

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