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The anti-conditioner glass: a research from the University of Notre Dame

Bright and thermally comfortable environments: this is the goal of the research conducted by a team from the University of Notre Dame in the United States. The research group, led by Professor Tengfei Luo, has developed a “smart” glass capable of blocking infrared and ultraviolet light without blocking the passage of visible light.

Energy-saving glass

Such a coating could be used in both the building and automotive sectors, reducing cooling costs associated with the use of air conditioning in hot climates by more than a third. The glass developed by Professor Tengfei Luo’s team ensures maximum efficiency regardless of the position of the sun in the sky. 

The research incorporated work previously conducted by Tengfei Luo himself, in cooperation with his postdoctoral collaborator Seongmin Kim. The coating, composed by adding ultrathin layers of silica, alumina, and titanium oxide to a glass base, has now been improved by aggregating a micrometer-thick silicon polymer. This solution makes it possible to improve the cooling power of the ‘glass’, as it can return thermal radiation into the vacuum, preventing the building or cabin from heating up.  

The layers challenge

To achieve the optimal configuration of such layers, meaning the one that produces a consistent reduction in the passage of heat-generating wavelengths and maximization of visible light transmission, the team employed quantum annealing, and the experimental results confirmed what the mathematical method assumed. 

The model designed by the University of Notre Dame researchers maintains the typical transparency of glass while reducing the internal temperature by 5.4°C-7.2°C (regardless of the angle through which light is transmitted), resulting in annual energy savings of about 97.5 MJ/m2.

The results were published in the scientific journal Cell Reports Physical Science and open up great possibilities for the design of a wide range of coatings and materials with complex and versatile properties.


Read also: Cooling glass defies air conditioning and climate change
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