New Glass Technology

It seems that windows are turning into high-tech screens. Indeed, in the not too far off future, all of the windows in our homes could very well be see-through glass that doubles as smart home screens.

This may sound like the imaginary high-tech that we see in Iron Man, but thanks to a new discovery by a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC), we are now one step closer to this novel possibility.

Of course, it will take time to get to this future, but research like this is bringing us ever closer.

In short, when small pieces of glass are coated with extremely thin layers of certain metals, such as silver, it still allows light to come through. Combined with the fact that metals naturally conduct electricity, this discovery could allow windows to make a significant leap towards becoming integrated, smart display tech.

"It's been known for quite a while that you could put glass on metal to make metal more transparent, but people have never put metal on top of glass to make glass more transparent," said Loïc Markley, an assistant professor of engineering at UBC, in the official press release.

"It's counter-intuitive to think that metal could be used to enhance light transmission, but we saw that this was actually possible, and our experiments are the first to prove it."

See-through technologies made their way into the popular Iron Man movies. Now, we may soon have them ourselves. Credit: Paramount Pictures/ Marvel Enterprises
Window to the Future

Following this discovery, the team is now planning to incorporate it onto windows to create smart technology that can selectively filter light and heat automatically, depending on the season or time of day.

"Engineers are constantly trying to expand the scope of materials that they can use for display technologies, and having thin, inexpensive, see-through components that conduct electricity will be huge," said UBC Associate Professor and lead investigator Kenneth Chau.

"I think one of the most important implications of this research is the potential to integrate electronic capabilities into windows and make them smart.

The research was published this week in the open access journal Scientific Reports.

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