Smart glass or switchable glass (also smart windows or switchable windows in those applications) is glass or glazing whose light transmission properties are altered when voltage, light or heat is applied. Generally, the glass changes from translucent to transparent, changing from blocking some (or all) wavelengths of light to letting light pass through.
When installed in the envelope of buildings, smart glass creates climate adaptive building shells, with the ability to save costs for heating, air-conditioning andlighting and avoid the cost of installing and maintaining motorized light screens or blinds or curtains. Most smart glass blocks ultraviolet light, reducing fabric fading; for SPD-type smart glass, this is achieved in conjunction with low emissivity coatings.
Critical aspects of smart glass include material costs, installation costs, electricity costs and durability, as well as functional features such as the speed of control, possibilities for dimming, and the degree of transparency.
In suspended particle devices (SPDs), a thin film laminate of rod-like nano-scale particles is suspended in a liquid and placed between two pieces of glass or plastic, or attached to one layer. When no voltage is applied, the suspended particles are randomly organized, thus blocking and absorbing light. When voltage is applied, the suspended particles align and let light pass. Varying the voltage of the film varies the orientation of the suspended particles, thereby regulating the tint of the glazing and the amount of light transmitted.
SPDs can be manually or automatically "tuned" to precisely control the amount of light, glare and heat passing through, reducing the need for air conditioning during the summer months and heating during winter. Smart glass can be controlled through a variety of mediums, such as automatic photosensors and motion detectors, smartphone applications, integration with intelligent building and vehicle systems, knobs or light switches.
Smart glass light-control technology increases users' control over their environment, provides for better user comfort and well-being and improves energy efficiency. The technology provides over 99% UV blockage and instant switching in 1 to 3 seconds. In cars, the range of light transmission for the technology is 50-60 times darker than a typical sunroof to twice as clear as an ordinary sunroof. Published data by Mercedes-Benz shows that SPD technology can reduce cabin temperatures inside a vehicle by 18 °F (10 °C). Other advantages include reduction of carbon emissions and the elimination of a need for expensive window dressings.
Commercialization of SPD is accelerating in the automotive industry. SPD automotive side and rear windows and sunroofs offer many benefits to passengers in the vehicle. Because of their fast-switching and infinite tunability, they reduce unwanted light and glare, which allows users to more comfortably maintain their views of the outside and to enjoy glare-free viewing of displays and video screens. SPD automotive glass also minimizes heat build-up inside the vehicle because of their ability to block solar heat gain. They automatically switch to their maximum heat-blocking state when the vehicle is not in use. These features improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. The deep tinting of SPD windows also gives users instant privacy on demand.
Over 30 different aircraft models have SPD windows in operation. SPD windows reduce maintenance costs, block UV radiation to protect interiors, and block cabin heat build-up.
Adaptability and control are especially important in the marine environment. SPD lets the user instantly and precisely control the amount of light, glare and heat passing through windows, skylights, portholes, partitions and doors.
Architectural SPD products – windows, skylights, doors and partitions – are available as laminated panels or insulated glass units for new construction, replacement and retrofit projects. These products offer a distinctive blend of energy efficiency, user comfort and security. Architectural products made with SPD technology:
· Eliminate blinds and shades
· Preserve daytime and nighttime views
· Allow people to enjoy shading on-demand
· Minimize glare
· Reduce heating and cooling requirements
· Maximize daylighting
· Protect interior furnishings and artwork from fading
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