This material could replace traditional glass and keep building interiors cooler

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Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have developed a new polymer-based material capable of replacing the glass normally used to make windows. It has particularly interesting properties, as it is able to let in sunlight and maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, without the need for additional energy.

This multifunctional polymer-based microphotonic metamaterial (PMMM) is actually made up of microscopic silicone pyramids. Researchers have already been able to test the material’s properties, both in the laboratory and in real outdoor conditions. In the tests, the material achieved cooling of 6°C compared to the ambient temperature. In addition, the material showed a transparency of 95%, where standard glass rarely exceeds 90%.

Used in roofs and walls, it creates bright, glare-free, protected interior spaces for work and household life. In greenhouses, this high light transmission could boost yields, as photosynthesis efficiency would be an estimated 9% higher than in glass-roofed greenhouses. The material even cleans itself, with water beading in droplets to remove dirt and dust from the surface. This makes it easy to maintain and particularly durable. This research is published in the journal, Nature Communications.

Numerous researchers are studying ways of cooling or, on the contrary, heating building interiors naturally, while limiting energy expenditure. A British startup, for example, has designed water-filled windows capable of harnessing energy from the sun. The water in the window panes absorbs the sun’s rays and limits the heat in the rooms of a house, keeping them cool. And in winter, sunlight heats up the water, which can then be conveyed through the walls of the building via an internal piping system. – AFP Relaxnews

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