Glass is one of the oldest materials that was being used by mankind for building structures. If you go back to medieval history, you will find beautiful structures in which glass has been used to accentuate the beauty of the building. The same glass which was manufactured from silica or in layman terms, which was manufactured from sand still stands tall and strong amongst the best materials to be used in a structure. The greatest aspect of the glass is that it is transparent, which means it allows light to pass through it. This light can be controlled by using various tinting available in glass. You can have black glass, a blue tint, and colors as beautiful as gold. This color on the glass not only makes it look beautiful but at the same time decreases the amount of light that passes through it. The issue with this is that there will always be the same amount of light passing through the glass under the same luminous conditions. If a glass is transparent then or clear, then it will always be clear, the only way to make it opaque is to add curtains to it.
The concept of curtains is the most practical you can think of, in case you want some privacy, but it is only till the time that you don’t know about the new technology called smart glass. Smart glass is a glass that is fused with a smart film in between the two glass layers or is stuck to one side of the glass using special adhesives. These films are connected to a power source, and when we switch on or switch off the power to the film, the glass turns from clear to opaque, and vice versa. But how does this glass work?
- PDLC Film:
Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal film or the PDLC film is a film that is used in these smart glasses. This film as the name suggests has a film in which there are some particles dispersed. The particles are dispersed in some random order, say as if some rice has fallen on the table, then the grains would be in some random order. When electricity is passed through this PDLC film than the particles in the film which were randomly aligned now align themselves in a fixed pattern. A pattern such that the gap between the grains of the film is adequate for light to pass through. When light passes through the film it makes the glass transparent. And when the power is turned off these particles again form a random pattern blocking the light and making the glass opaque.
So, the things which make the glass smart are:
1- PDLC Film
2- Power Source
3- The property of the particles in the film which align themselves in ways that light passes through when a power source is connected.
The technological advancements in the field of glass are one of how we make our buildings and automotive efficient. These glasses limit the amount of sunlight that comes in which indirectly helps in maintaining the temperature of the building or the vehicle. In that way we have to use less of our cooling or heating systems, hence saving power and moving towards greater efficiency.