Harvard: Smart Windows Using Silver Nanowire

[ Treehugger ] Megan Treacy:

According to the university, “With an applied voltage, the nanowires on either side of the glass are energized to move toward each other, squeezing and deforming the soft elastomer. Because the nanowires are distributed unevenly across the surface, the elastomer deforms unevenly. The resulting uneven roughness causes light to scatter, turning the glass opaque.”

The opacity of the window can be controlled by the amount of voltage applied. A lower voltage creates a small amount of roughness to the elastomer meaning the window would just be a little cloudy, but a much higher voltage would increase the roughness enough to create an opaque window.

In the near future windows will will open and close automatically at the touch of a smart window app, or using an algorithm based on temperature settings, time of day, air quality, etc. Smart windows will of course have the ability to transition between being transparent and opaque. Now the trick is how to make smart windows affordable, easy to install, easy to use, reliable, and easy to fix.

Oh, if I can request one very important feature to the brilliant engineers who are working on smart windows: self-cleaning. Please.