Luxurious Office

Smart Glass Overview

Overview

The range of glass solutions today is wider than ever.

They come in a variety of colors and textures, can be ordered in different sizes and designs, and are used for a wide range of purposes.

 

Now, the range of uses of glass can be taken to the next level, and its properties controlled according to the changing needs and conditions in space and the environment.

There are five technologies for dynamic glass:

  • PDLC glass, electric, clear or frosted glass, for privacy

  • Electrochromic glass, electric, color-changing, suitable for screen walls

  • SPD, electric, color change, suitable for vehicles

  • Thermochromic glass, radiation blocking, and sunshine, for screen walls

  • Photochromic film, radiation block, and sunlight, for curtain walls

An innovative application for scientific discoveries that has accompanied us for many years, creates a revolutionary technology that offers a variety of efficient uses. Smart glass technologies, or interchangeable glass, make it possible to change the light transmission characteristics of the glass individually and at the required times.

By changes in the conditions of natural lighting in the environment or initiated changes in the electric field around the glass, it is possible to turn transparent glass into frosted and vice versa or to darken its hue. These features of smart glass make it an efficient and environmentally friendly tool for maintaining the privacy and filtering heat and light for more efficient climate control in enclosed spaces.

 

The options are very extensive and entail new opportunities for smart homes and public complexes that offer users maximum convenience.

 

Existing Technologies

There are currently five key technologies for adapting smart glass solutions. Some have been around for over 100 years and are only today being implemented effectively and some are based on modern discoveries.

The principle common to them all - the use of materials whose exposure to electrical voltage, heat, or sunlight changes their composition and consequently their color and texture. By creating coatings from these materials and assembling them on glass, smart glass is created whose properties are controllable.

Smart glass technologies can be divided into two groups:

Passive

Smart glass technology operated by an external factor without the user's ability to control such as temperature or light, such as Thermochromic or Photochromic.

Active

Smart glass technology that is activated and controllable by the user (usually by activating an electric field), such as PDLC, Electrochromic or SPD

 

PDLC

Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal

 

Used primarily in the architecture and transportation industry to create interior and exterior partitions that allow for a selective division that becomes transparent or opaque on demand.

 

This solution is mainly used in private homes and hotels, educational and medical institutions, retail businesses, and offices. This solution makes it possible to produce even transparent showers and toilets for an aesthetic and clean look that will be sealed only when used for privacy.


To enjoy this solution, there is no need to purchase a new window, it can be applied directly to existing windows and apply natural light transition on demand, permanent blocking of harmful UV radiation, on-demand privacy without the need for curtains, and reliable long-term results with minimal maintenance.

By using liquid crystals, the way light is scattered in the material can be changed by applying an electric field that arranges them in a different way.

 

The new arrangement of the liquid crystals in the material, causes the light rays to be reflected differently and as a result, the glass becomes transparent or milky on pressing.

Liquid crystals (LC) were invented as early as 1888, however, PDLC technology applications were developed and patented by Dr. James Ferguson in 1984. Dr. Ferguson is recognized as the inventor of the technology under the trademark (Nematic) (Curvilinear Aligned Phase NCAP-PDLC). 

 

This technology is the highest quality smart glass technology for PDLC-based privacy because the production is based on LC solution in water and not in solvents, which makes the technology stable and very reliable over many years. Following significant development and improvements in technology, Smart Films acquired the patents and manufacturing plant located in Silicon Valley, California in 2007.

Dr. Ferguson realized that a combination of LC liquid crystal in which the molecules are arranged in one direction, with a water-based solution allows the production of a smart film. The solution was applied between two plastic sheets with a transparent conductive layer based on indium oxide. Indium Thin Oxide (ITO).

 

In 1987, Kent State University developed and patented PDLC technology based on "phase separation". A homogeneous mixture of polymer and liquid crystal is first produced.

 

The liquid crystal droplets are then formed by a separation process that takes place in one of the following ways: polymerization, heat, or severe solvents. The production by solvents is the most common when the advantage of this method is a lower production cost but at the same time, the product is not perfect in terms of long-term stability.

Electrochromic Glass

 

By charging lithium ions at a voltage of 5 volts, they darken and absorb the sun's heat.


Here, we have full control and a variety of applications. This solution, which can even block 99% of sunlight, is considered one of the most energy-efficient and contributes significantly to the LEED score in complexes.

 

The darkening operation takes only a few minutes and allows the entry of light and heat at the push of a button.


Another significant advantage of this method is that it is possible to set control over the different parts of the window and divide it into up to three different areas and control each of them individually. By using dedicated sensors and applications, we can accurately adjust the optimal light transmission and online means.

 

However, it is important to remember that this solution will not provide privacy and also, the material cannot be applied to existing windows.

Typically, when the window is clear, the lithium ions reside in the innermost electrode (left side in the diagram).

When a very low voltage of 5 volts is applied to the electrodes, the ions "migrate" through the medium to the outermost electrode, (on the right side of the diagram) when they are in this layer, they are dark and absorb the light and heat.

Electrochromic technology is a "green" technology because energy consumption is required only in the transition from one degree of darkness to another, and no energy consumption is required to hold the glass in position.

The electrochromic materials are characterized by the quality of thermal insulation unlike the PDLC and SPD technology which has no heat insulation qualities.

Electrochromic material was first patented as early as 1843 by the Scottish engineer Alexander Bain.

 

Production is by building layers of nanomaterial in a process closer to semiconductors.

The basic principle of operation includes positively charged lithium ions with missing electrons that travel back and forth between the two electrodes through a medium that separates them.

SPD

 

Suspended Particle Devices

Technology that allows immediate darkening of the glass shade without any need for other shading means and significant reduction of climate-control solutions.

 

This technology, which is characterized by the blue-tinted glass, is mainly used in the automotive industry and is used as roof windows for luxury vehicles and smart car windshields.

 

This solution requires high voltage and is therefore problematic to apply to large-area surfaces. Also, it is used as a shading solution only and does not provide privacy nor can it be applied to an existing window. In addition, the high price constitutes a significant market barrier.

The production process of smart glass in SPD technology begins with the production of the solution with nanoparticles, application between two plastic sheets where each plastic sheet has a transparent conductive layer based on indium oxide.

SPD technology has a dark blue hue and at a voltage of about 100 volts, the hue will lighten. In order to keep the glass in a transparent state, energy consumption is required for the entire time of use.

Unlike electrochromic materials, which have heat insulation quality the SPD particles, as well as PDLC technology, have no heat insulation qualities.

Millions of particles applied in a gel solution. The particles filter the light and result in a dark solution shade. The electrical voltage causes the particles to settle in a straight structure and allows light to pass through. This makes the glass lighter and allows the degree of darkness of the glass to be controlled.

In 1965 began the development of smart glass based on the phenomenon where the principle of operation is the movement of nanoparticles in response to an electric field when the nanoparticles the size of less than a micron are in a liquid and have the property of light scattering.

Thermochromic Glass

 

These surfaces change their chemical composition in response to sunlight or heat and consequently their color. The shade of the glass will darken as the sunlight or heat of the sun intensifies.

 

The fact that this is a solution that does not require electricity at all, makes it particularly economical and green and eliminates the need for air conditioning.

 

This technology is applied in a wide range of solutions - from car windows (photochromic) to exterior partitions in both private and commercial spaces (photochromic).


While this is a solution that can significantly save energy costs in commercial spaces, here too the fact that it is a passive solution impairs our ability to control solar radiation and since it responds solely to light or heat, in addition, these technologies do not reach complete blockage of dazzling light.

Thermochromic smart glass consists of two glasses that are glued using PVB when thermochromic particles are already applied in the PVB layer. Thermochromic smart glass is offered in an insulating structure in order to produce a uniform heat layer and high-quality heat insulation.

Thermochromic materials began to develop in laboratories as early as the 1960s. Thermochromic material is characterized by a pigment with a color-changing property due to a change in temperature.

Photochromic Film

 

These surfaces change their chemical composition in response to sunlight or heat and consequently their color.

 

The shade of the glass will darken as the sunlight or heat of the sun intensifies. The fact that this is a solution that does not require electricity at all, makes it particularly economical and green and eliminates the need for air conditioning.

 

This technology is applied in a wide range of solutions - from car windows (photochromic) to exterior partitions in both private and commercial spaces (photochromic).


While this is a solution that can significantly save energy costs in commercial spaces, here too the fact that it is a passive solution impairs our ability to control solar radiation and since it responds solely to light or heat, in addition, these technologies do not reach complete blockage of dazzling light.

Recent developments incorporate nano-ceramic materials to adapt the range of solar radiation rejection to smart glass applications for thermal insulation. Combining silver-based nanomaterials can also incorporate infrared (IR) blocking by the reflection of solar rays.

When photochromic material is exposed to ultraviolet light (UV) the molecular structure changes as a result of oxidation-reduction, during this chemical reaction chlorine is oxidized to form atoms and electrons while a free electron is transferred to silver ions.

 

As a result, the photochromic material darkens and absorbs the light and heat generated by the sun's rays.

Color change by photons was invented in 1842 by Sir John Frederick William Herschel in England. Photochromic sheet changes its color composition upon exposure to ultraviolet wave radiation, usually of sunlight radiation.

Smart Glasses Comparison

 

Electrochromic vs SPD

 

Shrinkage edges - a phenomenon called Edge Clearing in which the active substance begins to retreat towards the inside of the glass when the areas with the phenomenon remain transparent without the ability to darken them, the phenomenon is accelerated due to the continuous operating time, temperature, and more.

Market Overview

The smart glass market was estimated at $ 3.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to double by 2025 with market size of $ 7 billion. Market size includes interior glass for privacy and exterior glass for climate control and heat and cold insulation.

 

Smart glass is applied in a large number of sectors such as residential apartments, offices, hotels, clinics and hospitals, public buildings, and government offices. The main applications focus on the construction and transportation industry with the main growth factors being:

  • Construction industry - Green building standards and regulations encourage building owners to invest in energy-saving solutions such as smart glass for curtain walls and windows.

  • Automotive industry - especially cooperative vehicles, in which it will be possible to block solar and dazzling sun rays and for privacy.

  • Aviation industry - Companies such as Boeing and Airbus will widely adopt smart glasses for application in common models as well and not only in luxury models.

  • Sailing Industry - Marine applications such as cruise ships and yachts will adopt smart glass to improve passenger comfort and energy savings.

Smart Glasses Over Time

 

The Future

Whatever solutions are chosen, smart glass is a revolutionary line in the field of privacy and climate control solutions and it is being used more and more frequently by architects and interior designers to provide maximum comfort and significant energy savings.

 

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