Cutting-Edge Development in Energy-Saving Smart Windows

In a groundbreaking study published in Nature Sustainability, a research team led by Prof. Cao Xun from the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has revolutionized the field of energy-saving windows. Electrochromic smart windows have long been hailed as a potential game-changer in reducing energy consumption in buildings by dynamically regulating solar radiation under external voltage stimuli.

While previous advancements have focused on improving response speed and contrast ratio, little progress has been made in addressing the impact of solar radiation and outdoor temperature. Prof. Cao’s team has tackled this challenge by developing a novel electrochromic smart window system based on a VO2-WO3 tandem film with a solid electrolyte. This innovative design allows for the tri-stable control of solar heat and sunlight transmittance simultaneously, leading to significant energy-saving effects.

The key breakthrough lies in the ability of Li+ to diffuse along the depth of VO2 and WO3, enabling independent regulation of near-infrared (NIR) and visible transmittance of sunlight. Unlike traditional approaches, VO2 offers the advantage of decoupling the barrier for maintaining the state from the barrier for changing the state, resulting in enhanced non-volatility compared to WO3. This unique design feature enables the EC-based windows to minimize the total energy cost of indoor lighting and heat exchange, making them ideal for smart window applications.

Simulations have demonstrated that this new electrochromic smart window system outperforms commercial low-E glass in terms of heating and cooling energy savings across various climates worldwide. Outdoor experiments in Sanya, Hainan Province, and Shanghai have further validated the system’s capabilities, showcasing a continuous cooling effect of up to 2°C–14°C throughout a typical clear sunny day.

This cutting-edge development marks a major milestone in the quest for sustainable and energy-efficient building technologies. By harnessing the power of electrochromic smart windows, researchers are paving the way for a greener and more environmentally friendly future.


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