Switchable Smart Glass: All That You Need to Know and More
Switchable Smart Glass technology is becoming an essential part of the modern, energy-efficient, and compact houses, offices, and buildings. Their endless benefits, conveniences, and effectiveness make them the top choice for windows, partition, privacy, and whatnot.
The great thing about the technology is that it is progression by leaps and bound. Every day, we see a new switchable smart technology’s new product. People are improvising with this technology. The new products are catering to the newer, sophisticated needs of both the consumer market as well as the industries.
After all, the technology is reshaping how you previously handled your window. Instead of conventional curtains and drapes, you now have high-end automated windows. These windows offer transparency, privacy, and opaqueness with a flick of a switch.
Something as great as smart glass technology is bound to make an impression. Therefore, it is always a great idea to keep oneself updated regarding the latest technology trends. In the course of this article, we are going to talk about switchable technology, its benefits, and its importance.
Switchable Glass Technology Overview
With passing time, enhanced and innovative demands, smart glass technology is evolving at an extremely fast speed. Currently, there are three main technologies that exist in the field of the switchable glass industry.
We are going to focus on each of these technologies and explain them in detail.
- Suspended Particle Devices
- Electrochromic Devices
- Liquid Crystal Devices
Suspended Particle Devices
The first form of technology is the SPDs—Suspended Particle devices. Switchable Privacy Film manufacturers even refer to this technology as light value technology. It uses either a film that has the droplets of liquid suspension or a liquid suspension. The droplets present in the film are distributed.
The working mechanism involves the dispersion of light-absorbing microscopic particles within the liquid suspension. To ensure smooth functionality, use tow plastic plates or glasses to enclose either the film or the liquid suspension. These plates or glasses have a coating of a transparent conductive material.
The basic mechanism of Suspended Particle Devices is similar to that of the Parallel Plate Capacitor. Thus, they use an electric field to polarize the dielectric atoms. This means that when you apply an electrical voltage through the coating, you are forcing the particles to align.
The process above would offer a range of transparency. You can either have completely transparent windows, or you can enjoy a different degree of transparency. The level of transparency that you want to achieve greatly depends upon the degree of voltage you apply.
To Make Things Simpler
Let’s make things even simpler for your better understanding. You can think that Suspended Particle Devices are light valves. So, you are placing millions of SPDs values withing the SPD Window. The window generally is of plastic or glass.
So, when you bring the current in contact with the SPDs through the conductive coating. They would allow the light to penetrate by lining up in a straight line. After you remove the current, the particles are distributed again. Thus, blocking the light and the view. You can control the darkens of the window by providing less or more current.
Taking away the electricity would make the window go completely dark. So, choose a degree that suits your needs.
Switchable Smart Glass: Electrochromic Devices
A newer form of switchable glass technology is the electrochromic windows. The manufacturers use the special electrochromic material for the making of these windows. Electrochromic is basically a property of a material that helps its change color after you energize it via current.
The reason being, once you apply current to the chemical present in the material, a chemical reaction takes place. This is common like any other chemical reaction; it would change the properties of the chemical.
In the case of electrochromic, when you apply current, the chemical reaction that occurs would make the material change the way it absorbs and reflects light. The change even the difference between electrochromic materials.
In some cases, the material would change color. However, int the case of electrochromic windows, it would either come transparent meaning no light could pass, or it would become colored, i.e. reflecting the light of a certain color.
The basic electronic window requires the above type of electrochromic material along with the electrode system. Together, they would be able to make the chemical reaction take place and switch between transparency and color.
To create the electrochromic glass, the manufacturers generally sandwich some material between glass panels. Remember, there are mostly 2 glass panels.
Oxidation Reaction – Working
So, what really is happening once you apply current to the electrochromic window. Applying current leads to a chemical reaction, this reaction is the oxidation reaction.
It is basically a reaction in which molecules present in the compound tend to lose an electron. For it to change color from transparent to translucent, it would depend upon the ions. These ions allow the window to become clear or dark after all, they allow the window to absorb light.
There are two conducting oxide layers present, you would power them using the power wire conducted to them. Once you apply the current, the voltage would force the ions to move from the ion storage layer to the electrochromic layer. The ions would pass through the conducting layer in order to reach their destination.
Once the ions reach the electrochromic layer, the glass becomes opaque. Now to bring back the transparency, you would have to shut down the voltage. After the voltage shuts down, it would again force the ions to leave the electrochromic layer and enter into the ion storage layer.
The great thing about these windows is that you need to apply electricity once. There is no need for continuous electrical power. Apply the voltage, change the state of the window and you would go from one state to another and vice versa.
Liquid Crystal Smart Glass Devices
Liquid Crystal devices for formally known as the Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystals – PDLCs are highly famous and effective in the switchable smart glass industry. This particular technology is becoming increasingly popular as it offers numerous benefits.
The working of PDLCs is simple. The glass would diffuse direct sunlight and it would remove ultraviolet rays up to 90 percent. These windows operate as per the principle of electrically controlled light scattering. It means that you would have to power it to switch between a degree of privacy levels.
The technology consists of two conducting glass pieces. Between these two pieces, there is a polymer mixture. The polymer mixture then surrounds the crystal droplets. To make it easier, first, there is the crystal droplet, then the polymer mixture, and finally the two conducting glasses.
In the rest state, that no current has been applied the crystal droplets are not in uniform origination. On the contrary, they are scattered randomly. Thus, they create an opaque state. So, for the transparent state, you would need to apply current.
Once you apply the current, the crystal droplets align with the electric field. Doing this would make the window transparent. It would let the light pass through the windows. Do bear in mind that with LCD technology, you are limited either to a transparent or to an opaque state. There is no degree of darkness.
Advantages of Switchable Smart Glass Technology
There are several benefits that the switchable privacy film technology offers. For instance, the electrochromic devices and the suspended particle devices offer the facility for controlling the transparency level. You can go from completely transparent to complete darkness along with a degree of darkness level in between.
The amount of light that transfers through the windows depends upon the electrical power that you apply. The increase in power would result in greater darkness and vice versa. ECDs and SPDS are highly effective for problems that are real-valued. Therefore, they are also more popular across industries.
The Liquid Crystal device on the other hand offers just two states, either it’s completely transparent or it’s completely dark. There is no in-between.
Below are some of the benefits that all these three technologies offer.
Switchable Smart Glass Technology Benefits
They are excellent replacement of drapes and curtains as they offer complete privacy with a flick of a switch. They have the capacity to go from transparent to completely opaque in a matter of seconds. Something which is really great, especially if privacy is among your top priorities.
Another great thing about switchable film technology is that you can use it as an effective platform for advertisement or spreading information. Once you turn the film or the window offer, it then provides you the option of using it as a screen.
You can project high contrast and high-resolution images onto the glass film and enjoy an outstanding digital advertising space. You can even rent your film to small business owners to advertise their products. These surfaces would become their billboards.
Creative Alternative for Designers
With switchable glass technology, you provide multifunctional spaces. At the same time, you are also redefining the environments and allowing the contractors, interior designs and the architects to come up with their creative design concepts.
These can use these surfaces to get their design concept through the audience.
Since every display application has its unique requirements, therefore, the technology offers variety and diversity in terms of sizes, shapes, and colors. You can enjoy different types of these windows or films and yield highly effective results.
Although the upfront cost of switchable smart glass technology is high, it would last for years. It is, by all means, a more powerful, low maintenance, robust and hygienic window covering solution.
Makes Place Energy Efficient
In addition to offering complete privacy, smart glass technologies are a highly effective solution for making houses energy efficient. They would block the heat and harmful UV rays to make your place cooler and safer.
Low operating Voltage
Another great thing about this particular technology is that it does not require a lot of energy to operate. On the contrary, it would work with extremely low operating voltage. This would mean that they would not add to your electricity bill while keeping your place completely insulated.
The downside of Switchable Smart Technology
Although, the technology is highly effective, yet it does come with some possible drawbacks. For instance, the changing speed can be slow. However, do bear in mind that the speed is directly proportional to the surface of the glass window.
So, if you have a big window, it would require more time to change its state in comparison to a window that covers less space. The ECD technology is innately slowly mainly because it depends upon the chemical reaction.
However, with SPDs, things are faster. They can respond in a short time. Although, we do hope that technological advances would eliminate this particular problem as well. The modern and sophisticated switchable glass technologies would become faster. They would be more responsive once you apply the voltage to them.
The applications of smart technology are endless. They are only limited to one’s own imagination. Modern, offices homes, building, etc. are switching from conventional window covering drapes to sophisticated and modern switchable technologies.
Below, we have come up with some of the applications of Smart technology.
- Privacy Windows for Offices
- Privacy Windows for Homes
- Dividers for Offices
- Room Partitions
- Effective Blind Replacement in Bathrooms
- Window Displays
- An effective medium to advertise things
- Display Cases
- Vision Panels
- Used for Shower Cabinets
- They are becoming popular in beauty salons
- Energy Efficient Homes
- Enjoy Complete Privacy without compromising on the Big Front Glass Windows
- Automated Shading for Buildings
The Switchable Smart Glass technology has become the need of modern and sophisticated buildings. It no longer a luxury, on the contrary, it has become a necessity to ensure that your house, office, or building is energy-efficient and pleasing to the eye.
What more is that you can use these windows in numerous other ways. You can advertise on them, use them for projection purposes, partitions, etc. They are complete privacy solutions. To know more about the latest switchable technology, reach out to our representative.