“Colorado State University chemists have devised a potentially major improvement to both the speed and durability of smart glass by providing a better understanding of how the glass works at the nanoscale.
They offer an alternative nanoscale design for smart glass in new research published June 3 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The project started as a grant-writing exercise for graduate student and first author R. Colby Evans, whose idea – and passion for the chemistry of color-changing materials – turned into an experiment involving two types of microscopy and enlisting several collaborators. Evans is advised by Justin Sambur, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, who is the paper’s senior author.
The smart glass that Evans and colleagues studied is “electrochromic,” which works by using a voltage to drive lithium ions into and out of thin, clear films of a material called tungsten-oxide. “You can think of it as a battery you can see through,” Evans said. Typical tungsten-oxide smart glass panels take 7-12 minutes to transition between clear and tinted.”