SBIR Phase II: Smart Solar Control Film

Period of Performance: 08/12/2015 - 07/31/2017


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

1576 Sweet Home Road
Amherst, NY 14228
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will reduce energy consumption in buildings and automobiles via 'smart' solar control window films. The effects of solar heating are frequently experienced on sunny warm days when the inside temperature of a car can exceed 130°F in minutes. The same solar heating that is such a nuisance in summer is very much desired in winter. The national problem is that buildings consume more than 41% of all energy produced (more than 50% directly for heating, cooling, and lighting) which leads to an estimated 2,236M metric tons of greenhouse gases. Additionally, 80% of buildings that exist today will exist in 20 years, many of which are inefficient and outdated. This necessitates a retrofittable smart solar control film. The consequence of installing smart solar control film is that the sun's warmth can be harnessed when it is needed and reflected away when it is unneeded. Installing these highly transparent films will have significant energy savings in space heating, cooling, and lighting. If smart solar control films are implemented, the Department of Energy estimates as much as 1.0 quadrillion BTUs ($10B in cost savings) can be saved annually. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project focuses on commercializing a family of doped nanoceramic materials that exhibit near-room temperature metal-to-insulator phase transitions. Slight changes to the composition of matter produce remarkably tunable thermochromic transitions over a broad range of temperatures, filling a key technological gap for their deployment as a smart solar control window film. No visible change occurs during the transition from the low-temperature/infrared transparent (insulating-like phase) to the high-temperature/infrared reflective (metal-like phase), and vice versa. The nanomaterials are also of sufficient stability, optical clarity, and compatible with commonly used polymers found in film. Phase II efforts address optimizing the composition of matter for peak performance and developing a unique in-line nanomanufacturing process compatible with scalable production and achieving more precise control. In order for these materials to perform correctly they need to be of the correct elemental composition and be in the form of nanoparticles of the correct size. The films will be optimized and then thoroughly tested in the laboratory and in the field for their performance, stability, optical clarity, and a wide variety of application-specific performance requirements.