State University of New York Institute of Technology
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Nanotech Low-E Windows


If you look at the current energy usage of the world, there are two options: use less and / or find new sources of enegery. Nanotechnology can help with the using less part with a new film that coat windows. Windows let light in, which is good, and heat from the sun comes with it. This heat is good in the winter and bad in the summer. So how can get the best of both worlds?

Low-E windows stands for low emissivity windows that are double pain for insulation and are coating with nanocrystals. Imagine crystals spread out over the surface of the window. They let light in (like the window which is itself crystalline) and heat with it. Now imagine you could change the position of all the crystals so the light shines through but the heat is blocked or reflected away. You can send a little electric current through the window to change the position of the crystals. If you are having trouble imagining this, think of a hundred little compasses in a ten by ten square. They all point due North right? Then take a large magnet and wave it over the compasses, all the needles would change position and point toward the magnet. The electric current would change the direction of the crystals just as the magnet changes the direction of the compasses.

If all Americans swapped out their old windows for new Low-E windows, we could save over $40 billion a year. Imagine how much energy could be saved in a window clad skyscraper! These dynamic windows are being developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and are about three years away from development.


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