Hybrid dynamic windows using reversible metal electrodeposition and ion insertion


Dynamic windows with electronically controlled transmission reduce glare without obstructing views while increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and automobiles via lighting, heating and cooling savings. Electrochromic materials, which change colour with voltage, are widely explored for use in dynamic windows, but they have not been extensively commercialized due to problems associated with colour, cost, switching speed and durability. Here, we develop a class of dynamic windows that combines reversible metal electrodeposition with ion insertion chemistry. These devices function through the reversible electroplating of Bi and Cu at the working electrode and Li+ insertion in a nickel oxide counter electrode. In one minute, 100 cm2 windows uniformly switch between a clear state with 75% transmission and a colour-neutral black state possessing 10% transmission, which represents a significant improvement over previous metal-based architectures. We demonstrate that these hybrid windows cycle at least 4,000 times without degradation and are compatible with flexible substrates. Lastly, we discuss how this approach can be used to design practical large-scale windows.

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Fig. 1: Metal-based dynamic window architectures.
Fig. 2: Transmission profile of 25 cm2 hybrid dynamic window.
Fig. 3: A metal inhibitor on LiNiOx improves device durability.
Fig. 4: Transmission of LiNiOx during lithiation and delithiation.
Fig. 5: Flexible hybrid dynamic windows.
Fig. 6: 100 cm2 hybrid dynamic windows.

Data availability

Data that support the plots in this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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This research was supported by Research and Innovation at the University of Nevada, Reno and also by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Building Energy Efficiency Frontiers in Innovation Technologies Program, Award Number DE-EE0008266/001. T.S.H. acknowledges a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (No. NSF DGE-1656518). We acknowledge the Shared Instrumentation Laboratory in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). SEM-EDS analysis was performed in the Mackay Microbeam Laboratory at UNR, and we thank J. Desormeau for his kind assistance. We appreciate R. Kazemi and Dr. Alpuche’s laboratory for assistance in profilometry measurements. We also acknowledge T. Hull for work with CeO2 films, initial large-scale work by J. Jaurez-Rolon, and L. Postak from Quanex for providing the Solargain edge tape. We are grateful for fruitful discussions with M. Strand. We appreciate W. Scheideler, a post-doctoral student in R. Dauskardt’s group at Stanford University, for help with preparing the NiO samples via spray pyrolysis.

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All authors designed the experiments, discussed the results, and commented on the manuscript. S.M.I. and T.S.H. performed the experiments and analysed the data. M.D.M. and C.J.B. wrote the paper. C.J.B. conceived the project.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Barile.

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Islam, S.M., Hernandez, T.S., McGehee, M.D. et al. Hybrid dynamic windows using reversible metal electrodeposition and ion insertion. Nat Energy 4, 223–229 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-019-0332-3

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