Some day we will not need curtains or blinds on our windows to exclude sunlight so that it does not enter the interior of our house, and all this will happen at the touch of a button. At least that’s why Keith Goossen, an associate professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Delaware University, boasts.
Goossen and Daniel Wolfe have developed glass panels that can be transformed from transparent to opaque, preventing sunlight from penetrating them. This “smart glass” technology could be used in environmentally friendly windows, windshields, ceilings and buildings, absorbing illumination and heat in the winter and reflecting it during the summer.
Although Goossen is not the first scientist to create smart glass, his team’s invention is cheaper by a tenth of the price of other versions. It is also more transparent (in its transparent state) and more reflective (in its reflective state) than its competitors.
The principles behind this intelligent glass technology are surprisingly simple. The construction starts with two thin plastic sheets located on the two outer sides. The plastic contains microscopic structures that make the material reflexive.
Then the chamber is filled with a liquid called methyl salicylate – a cheap extract that happens to be the active ingredient in some pain relief creams. This liquid has significant optical properties effectively interacting with visible light.