SBIR Phase I: Thin Film Patterned Optical Retarders for Low Energy Smart Glass Applications

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011

$149K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Lono LLC
South Bend, IN 46617-1405
South Bend, IN 46617
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a low-cost smart-window technology. This project will utilize contemporary display industry fabrication and processing technologies to create unique large area optical films. These films will be subsequently used to construct energy efficient smart-windows that modulate transmission or reflection of light on command. Windows, skylights and other glazings made with this technology will have the ability to darken on command. In this Phase I project, three methods of creating the films will be examined and compared based on the optical film quality, scalability to large area and large volume production, material costs, and prototype operation. Successful fabrication of these films will enable smart-windows to be manufactured in a completely passive manner, simplifying their installation in existing windows, minimizing upfront costs and ultimately reducing energy bills. The broader impact of this project will be a potential savings of billions of dollars in energy costs in the United States alone. Buildings are responsible for seventy percent of the electricity consumed in the United States. As part of a daylighting /natural heating strategy, smart-window technologies have received much attention for their ability to reduce building energy consumption. Unfortunately, existing smart-window technologies suffer from severe limitations in lifespan, scalability and cost. The technology to be developed is a radically different approach to smart-windows because instead of electrochemical processes, it utilizes stable films. This affords more chemical stability, longer life, better manufacturing scalability, power independence (manual operation), and lower costs to the consumer.