Top 5 Smart Glass Technologies

Nowadays glass can do so much more thanks to scientific advancements. Read this article to learn about the latest developments in glass technology and how they can enhance your space.

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Back in the day you chose a window frame and a piece of glass and that was it. Today, there are lots of factors to take into consideration as innovations push the limits of what glass can do.

Keep reading to discover how science is taking glass to the next level and making it an invaluable part of smart, sustainable design:

PDLC Smart Glass

Switchable smart glass, also known as privacy glass, goes from clear to frosted when powered on and off. This makes it the fastest and most convenient way to obtain privacy for homes, offices, schools, medical clinics, hotels, retails spaces and anywhere else glass is used. 

This technology uses PDLC (polymer-dispersed liquid crystals) and electricity to create this effect. When the glass is powered on, these liquid crystals align and the glass becomes transparent. When the glass is powered off, the liquid crystals scatter the light, making the glass look opaque. 

Any type of glass can become smart glass. Smart glass can be made with curved glass, low iron glass, insulated glass units and virtually every other type of glass. Smart film can be applied to existing glass surfaces, transforming them into switchable privacy glass. 

PDLC smart glass is ideal for areas where privacy is only desired some of the time or where security and cleanliness is important, such as campuses, military buildings and hospitals. 

SPD Glass

SPD-Smart Glass is a dimmable window technology that allows users to change the glass from bright to dark. Users can control the exact amount of light permitted through the glass. As with privacy glass, this transformation happens in a fraction of a second, regardless of the size of the window. 

SPD glass is mainly used for exterior facing glass, as it makes interiors more comfortable and protects furniture, paint and other valuables from harmful UV rays that may cause fading. SPD glass blocks up to 99% of UV radiation. 

SPD film and glass can considerably reduce energy costs by reducing the need for air conditioning. 

In many cases, SPD glass eliminates the need for curtains or blinds. However, SPD film and glass do not provide privacy. This makes it a great option for those looking to shade the glass without blocking the view, though for those seeking privacy PDLC smart glass is the superior choice. 

Thermochromic Glass

This technology has the same effect as SPD glass, going from clear to dark. The difference is that thermochromic glass technology is a passive technology that changes on its own depending on the intensity of the sunlight. It requires zero electricity for operation.

Self-tinting glass relies on a thermochromic filter sandwiched between two panes of glass and a Low-E coating. These filters are triggered by a rise in temperature from sunlight. They then begin to dim their colour to block the heat, glare and UV light. This prevents sun damage to the interior and decreases HVAC costs during warmer months. On cold winter days the glass will remain clear, allowing light and warmth through. 

Thermochromic glass is ideal for hard to reach areas because it requires no wiring or control. It is a great option for areas where passive technology is desirable such as schools, universities, hospitals, offices and other shared public spaces. 

Solar-Harvesting Glass

While actively collecting energy from solar panels is common practice nowadays, collecting it from glass is not. Being able to capture solar energy from glass would be a major breakthrough, especially as buildings are made with more and more glazing. 

This is precisely what scientists are developing at Michigan State University using a transparent luminescent solar concentrator. This system uses specific organic molecules to capture non-visible wavelengths of sunlight. This is being done with clear, transparent glass that looks just like regular glass rather than coloured glass that has been used for similar purposes in the past. 

While this amazing technology is still in development, it’s definitely a glass innovation to watch. 

Bird Friendly Glass

Each year, a billion bird deaths in the USA can be attributed to collisions with buildings and glass surfaces. This is a problem in dense cities with many buildings, but is actually more problematic with low-rise buildings in suburban and rural areas.

Reflections, lighting conditions and inviting interiors all contribute to this problem. Fortunately there are many innovations that have led to bird friendly glass:

Fritted Glass: This is the most economical solution, though it is also the most visible as humans notice it too. Fritted glass is very effective at preventing bird collisions but  isn’t always a top choice because it obstructs more of the view than other solutions. This being said, Frit is the most effective as it prevents collisions both during the day and the night. 

Etched Glass:  This type of bird-friendly glass is translucent and moderately visible to the human eye, making it a more popular option for windows with views.

UV-coated Glass: This option is the least visible for humans. It can only be seen by birds as they are able to view light in the visible UV spectrum whereas humans cannot. However, UV treated glass is not effective at preventing collisions at night. 

Deciding which type of bird friendly glass to use depends on the desired aesthetics, cost and level of bird safety required. 

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Interested in getting smart glass for your project? Contact us today and one of our knowledgeable product advisors will be in touch. 

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