Japanese scientists have developed a smart window that can not only alternate between light and dark, but can produce various shades of tint across its surface.
The new technology opens up the possibility of windows automatically responding to the elevation of the sun to better control glare in buildings while maintaining views.
Electrochromic glass capable of blocking sunlight has already been used in building and transport applications, for example airplane windows.
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However, the window tint in current products is applied uniformly to the entire glass panel. The new research, which included Japan-based National Institute for Materials Science along with Waseda University and Tama Art University, investigated a tinting smart glass with gradational shade using electrochromic polymers, allowing both shade and clear visibility simultaneously.
The darkened part of the glass surface can be changed by applying a low voltage electrical current for different durations, and shading and transparency can be reversed by reversing the current.
The researchers said they would now work to direct research toward practical applications, including windows in vehicles and buildings.