UB chemistry professor Sarbajit Banerjee and his research
colleagues are working on ways to hasten the creation of "smart"
windows—windows that reflect heat from the sun on hot days,
but allow heat in during colder weather. Their research could clear
the way for more energy efficient windows.
The findings concern a unique class of synthetic chemical
compounds that are transparent to infrared light at lower
temperatures, but undergo a phase transition to begin reflecting
infrared when they heat up past a certain point. UB researchers
have managed to manipulate the trigger temperature for vanadium
oxide, one such material. The advance is a crucial step toward
making the compound useful for such applications as coatings for
“Definitely, we are closer than we’ve ever been to
being able to incorporate these materials into window coatings and
other systems that sense infrared light,” Banerjee says.
Banerjee’s work has caught the attention of the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory, which has contacted him to discuss
developing window coatings that could improve the energy efficiency
of buildings with heating or air conditioning systems. The
technology could be particularly useful in places like Phoenix and
Las Vegas that experience extreme summer temperatures.
Besides smart windows, vanadium oxide also could be useful in
products including computer chips, night-vision instruments and
missile-guidance systems, Banerjee said.