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Posted: Sep 22, 2011
The next generation of switchable glass: the micro-blinds
(Nanowerk News) The National Research Council, Canada is developing an innovative technology for smart glass with possible applications in sectors such as building, aircraft, automotive and displays. The micro-blinds are actuated by electrostatic forces; they allow the dynamic control of light transmission at remarkable speed and could lead to major energy savings in buildings. The idea is based on a cost-efficient manufacturing scheme.
Switchable glass or smart windows have been developed and discussed for decades. They have bright futures in applications such as vehicle, architecture, privacy and energy efficient glazing among others. The existing technologies seriously suffer from customer acceptance. The next generation of switchable glass based on micro-blinds might help the incursion of smart windows to the market, or at least to some niche markets.
The micro-blinds are composed of invisible and electrostatically activated curling electrodes of 100 micrometers size. They can be deposited on flat glass by magnetron sputtering like regular low-E coatings, and then patterned by laser. They possess several advantages such as switching speed, UV durability, customized appearance and transmission, and do not employ costly ITO, relative to the current smart windows technologies: electrochromic, suspended particles and liquid crystals. Several groups have successfully developed curling electrodes for small area devices; the novelty of the proposed technology lies in the revolutionary and cost-effective processing scheme for large areas.
Details of this research can be found in proceedings of the Glass Performance Days 2009, pp. 637-639, Boris Lamontagne, Pedro Barrios, Christophe Py and Suwas Nikumb, "The next generation of switchable glass: the Micro-blinds".