Skip to main content
The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
Technology

Smart glass reacts to the weather

By Julie Clothier for CNN

story.weather.jpg
The intelligent coating lets in infrared rays or blocks them out, depending on the outside temperature.
ON CNNI TV
Click here  for Spark show times on CNN International.
SPARK
Find out how tech is changing our lives  Click here
YOUR SAY
Send your thoughts on this story to spark@cnn.com or read what other viewers have to say
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Spark

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Scientists in London have created a coating for glass, which reflects or absorbs heat, depending on the temperature outside.

Professor of inorganic and materials chemistry, Ivan Parkin, and Troy Manning, both of the chemistry department at University College London, developed the intelligent window coating as part of Mr Manning's PhD studies.

The thin film is made out of a material called vanadium dioxide, and it undergoes a change depending on the weather outside.

On cold days the "thermochromic coating" allows all sunlight in, while on hot days, once the outside temperature reaches a certain level, the film begins acting as a filter, blocking infrared rays, which are responsible for generating heat.

Parkin told CNN the film could be manufactured to have a predetermined heat threshold of between zero and 70 C, although it would be most useful if it were set to work at 25 C.

Its altering properties meant it could act as a replacement or partial replacement for air-conditioning systems, reducing electricity costs.

"It acts as a semi-conductor when the temperature is below a certain level, and is transparent. When the temperature rises, it turns into a metal, and becomes reflective," Parkin said.

He has had a huge amount of interest about turning the idea into a commercial reality, particularly from architects, but also from space agency NASA and greenhouse manufacturers.

"The current trend towards using glass extensively in building, poses a dilemma for architects. Do they tint the glass, which reduces the benefit of natural light or face hefty air conditioning bills?" he said.

"It's the architectural holy grail of coating on a building. An intelligent facade like this would allow architects to use more glass in their designs."

Parkin said the idea had been around for a while but most efforts had not been durable enough to make them commercially viable.

"While the heat reflective properties of vanadium dioxide are well recognized, the stumbling block has been the switching temperature," he said.

"We've shown it's possible to reduce the switching temperature to just above room temperature and manufacture it in a commercially viable way."

Parkin said there was still a lot of development needed to turn it into a commercial reality, including altering the color of the film, which is currently yellow. He is currently in negotiations with a manufacturer.


Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Burgers, lattes and CD burners
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
Search JobsMORE OPTIONS


 

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.