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Polymer inhibitors enable >900 cm2 dynamic windows based on reversible metal electrodeposition with high solar modulation

Abstract

Dynamic windows with adjustable tint give users control over the flow of light and heat to decrease the carbon footprint of buildings and improve the occupants’ comfort. Despite the benefits of dynamic windows, they are rarely deployed in buildings because the existing technology cannot achieve fast and colour-neutral tinting at an agreeable cost. Reversible metal electrodeposition is a promising approach to solve these problems. Here, we demonstrate the use of polymer inhibitors to reversibly deposit metal films with controlled morphology in dynamic windows. The windows that employ the polymer inhibitor can readily tint to below 0.001% visible transmittance in less than 3 min and exhibit high infrared reflectance (>70%), colour-neutral transmittance (C* < 5) and an ultrawide range of optical and solar modulation (ΔTvis = 0.76 and ΔSHGC = 0.56). The polymer inhibitors also increase the efficiency and improve the durability of the windows and enable construction of >900 cm2 dynamic windows with fast response and excellent uniformity.

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Fig. 1: Schematic of dynamic window based on reversible metal electrodeposition.
Fig. 2: Morphology control with polymer inhibitor.
Fig. 3: Optical efficiency of dynamic windows.
Fig. 4: Optical performance of metal-based dynamic window and its comparison to commercial dynamic windows.
Fig. 5: Uniform tinting in >900 cm2 dynamic window.
Fig. 6: Durability of dynamic windows over 1,000 cycles.

Data availability

All the relevant data generated or analysed in this study are included in the published article and the Supplementary Information file.

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Acknowledgements

This material is based upon work supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Building Technologies Office Award Number DE-EE0008226 (M.D.M.). Part of this work was performed at the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities (SNSF), supported by the National Science Foundation under award ECCS-1542152. This research was also supported by the COSINC-CHR administered by the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. T.S.H. and M.T.S. acknowledge the financial support of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (no. NSF DGE-1656518). M.T.S. also acknowledges financial support of a Stanford Graduate Fellowship. A.L.Y. acknowledges financial support of a Graduate Assistantship in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship from the Department of Education. The authors thank L. Postak from Quanex for providing the Solargain edge tape used to fabricate the windows. The authors thank T. Borsa at the University of Colorado for assistance with materials characterization.

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Authors

Contributions

M.T.S., T.S.H., M.G.D., A.L.Y., N.J. and C.J.B. performed the experiments and analysed the data. M.T.S., T.S.H., C.J.B. and M.D.M. designed the experiments. M.T.S. conceived the project. M.T.S. and M.D.M. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael D. McGehee.

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Competing interests

M.T.S., T.S.H. and M.D.M. are co-founders of Tynt Technologies, a company commercializing dynamic windows. All other authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Energy thanks Guofa Cai, Steve Selkowitz and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–36, Notes 1–5 and Tables 1 and 2.

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Strand, M.T., Hernandez, T.S., Danner, M.G. et al. Polymer inhibitors enable >900 cm2 dynamic windows based on reversible metal electrodeposition with high solar modulation. Nat Energy 6, 546–554 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-021-00816-7

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