Quantum dot solar power producing windows could revolutionise construction

Smart window automatically changes colour without external power source

A smart window which changes colour depending on the intensity of the sunlight coming through it has been developed by a team at the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER).

The window includes a light-absorbing layer that can generate electromotive force into an electrochromic device.

The researchers say their combination of solar cells and electrochromic technology solves the need for a separate power supply and lowers production cost because it does not use expensive conductive glass.

The light-sensitive windows could be applied to large buildings with high cooling costs by blocking visible light as well as IR light transmission in summer.

Last July, leading architects and engineers called for all-glass skyscrapers to be banned because they are too difficult and expensive to cool. Smart glass such as this could help to lower the amount of heat coming in to such buildings without resorting to air conditioning, which is highly energy intensive.

The research team has succeeded in developing not only the glass but also the filming technology. They are also making a product that can attach to, and detach from, existing window glasses.

If the development of film-type products is successful, it is expected to expand not only to buildings but also to markets such as automobiles, ships and aircraft.

Head researcher Dr. Han Chi-hwan said: “As the [Korean] Government has established a road map that obligates zero-energy buildings step by step since 2020, this photosensitive automatic colour-conversion smart-window technology has the effect of blocking heat when sunlight is strong, so it can improve the energy efficiency when applied to a zero-energy building.

“It is also expected to contribute to the construction of a future smart city by combining solar cell technology and electrochromic technology into one.”

In April, a separate team demonstrated a carbon dioxide sensor that can be used in large buildings to help control and cut down on energy consumption through heating and ventilation systems. 

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