How Do Smart Glass and Smart Film Work?

Switchable glass products go from transparent to opaque with the flick of a switch. While this may seem like magic, it is simply the interaction of liquid crystals and electricity. Discover the science behind our privacy glass and film.

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Smart glass instantly transforms from transparent to opaque with the flick of a switch, providing privacy on demand. While this effect may look like magic, it is actually the result of the application of electricity to tiny liquid crystals! TVs, computer screens and smartphones all use liquid crystals and this type of innovative technology can be used to transform large glass surfaces as well.  

Switchable PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal) is a medium with variable opacity that can be adjusted through the application of an electric field. While there are lots of different names for PDLC glass (smart glass, intelligent glass, electronic glass, electric privacy glass, switchable privacy film etc.) they all have the same amazing effect.

When the power is switched on, the electrical current makes the liquid crystal molecules synchronously align. This allows the light to pass through and makes the glass clear.

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Smart Glass in clear state

In their natural, uncharged state (or when the power is switched off) the PDLC droplets orient themselves randomly. This scatters the light and makes the glass opaque. When the film is frosted, 97% of light is blocked.

Smart Glass in opaque state

Smart privacy glass is a laminated glass that contains the liquid crystal privacy film sandwiched between two pieces of glass. This film consists of a polymer matrix of liquid crystals enclosed by electrically conductive Indium Tin Oxide- coated PET film. A conductive copper busbar strip is located along one side of the film’s edge where it is connected to a transformer. Switchable glass can be installed by any glazier just like regular glass and wired by an electrician. Any type of glass can be made switchable including bulletproof glass and pressure rated glass.

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Smart privacy film works exactly like switchable glass, the only difference being that it adheres to the surface of existing glass. Switchable film contains an adhesive cling side with a protective layer. It can be installed in less than an hour as a do-it-yourself project by simply peeling away the protective liner and smoothing the sticky side over the glass, a process that is similar to applying a screen protector to a smartphone. However, many people opt to hire film installers, especially for larger projects. Smart film is the perfect retrofit option and can be a more affordable alternative to smart glass, particularly for small glass surfaces.

Electric privacy glass is a low voltage product, consuming only 0.7 watts per square foot. This makes Smart Glass Country’s products safe, energy efficient and green. Our products also minimize heat transfer, adding insulation value to glass surfaces by helping maintain a stable interior temperature.  

In addition to providing privacy, switchable glass products enhance security in homes, workplaces, government buildings, schools and other settings. Smart film adds a very tough 0.4 mm thick protective layer to glass, which makes it more difficult to break and makes glass surfaces more soundproof.

Ready to discover how smart glass or film can work in your space? Please contact us with any questions you may have or share your project specifications for a free quote.

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