Smart Metallic Glass Could Electrify our Windows of Tomorrow

In the not too distant future, the windows of your home might get a high-tech upgrade as the latest breakthrough in glass technology hints at what tomorrow could look like.

The Breakthrough…

A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBC) in Canada, led by UBC associate professor Kenneth Chau have discovered that light transmission can be enhanced by placing thin layers of metal over glass.

A World of Possibilities Now Awaits

As metals are natural electricity conductors, this revelation opens up a plethora of new, innovative possibilities when it comes to glass technology, such as windowpanes and other glass objects.

“Engineers are constantly trying to expand the scope of materials they can use for display technologies. Having thin, inexpensive, see-through components that conduct electricity will be huge. I think one of the most important implications of this research is the potential to integrate electronic capabilities into windows and make them smart,” elaborated Mr Chau, Associate Professor and lead investigator.

Just imagine, windows could double as thermostats, or giant television screens, amongst so many other uses yet to be thought-up. 

The Next Step…

Next on the to-do list, the team from UBC will be incorporating their smart glass invention onto windows in an attempt to selectively filter heat waves and light rays depending on the time of day, or season.    

Why Was the Smart Glass Project Undertaken?

Chau, along with assistant professor of engineering at UBC, Loïc Markley, developed the theory underpinning the research.

“It’s been known for quite a while that you could put glass on metal to make metal more transparent, but people have never put metal on top of glass to make glass more transparent. It’s counter-intuitive to think metal could be used to enhance light transmission, but we saw that this was actually possible and our experiments are the first to prove it,” explained Loïc Markley, assistant professor of engineering at UBC and Chau’s collaborator on the project.  

Want to Know More?

You can take a look at the research yourself in the open-access, online journal ‘Scientific Reports’, from the Nature Publishing Group. Published under:

‘Boosting the Transparency of Thin Layers by Coatings of Opposing Susceptibility: How Metals Help See Through Dielectrics’

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