Christopher Barile: Development of dynamic smart windows

Christopher Barile

Title

Development of dynamic smart windows

Mentor

Christopher Barile

Department

Department of Chemistry

Background

Research in the Barile group seeks to solve problems related to energy conversion, storage, and efficiency using electrochemistry, materials, and inorganic chemistry. Dynamic windows, which switch between transparent and opaque, are highly desirable in buildings, automobiles, and smart sunglasses. These windows enable ~10% energy savings in buildings. Our dynamic windows are based on the reversible electrodeposition of metals to overcome problems associated with durability, color, cost, and scalability.

Project overview

This project focuses on the development of dynamic, or “smart,” windows. These windows switch between clear, dark, and anywhere in between with the flick of a switch. The implementation of dynamic windows would greatly increase the energy efficiency of buildings due to energy savings associated with lighting, heating, and cooling. Dynamic windows also have applications in automobile windows, switchable sunglasses, and optical gating devices.

Our laboratory is designing new versions of these windows that operate via the reversible electrodeposition of metals. Compared to existing dynamic windows, metal-based windows tint much darker and do so with a desirable color neutral appearance. The main challenge in developing these devices is uniformly electrodepositing metals over a large area on transparent conducting panes of glass or plastic. To overcome this problem, we are exploring the use of nanostructured electrodes and electrolytes with tunable electrochemical properties. This research is very interdisciplinary, and students will learn concepts in electrochemistry, optics, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, and engineering during the course of the project.