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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K015354/1
Title: Biologically Inspired Nanostructures for Smart Windows with Antireflection and Self-Cleaning Properties
Principal Investigator: Papakonstantinou, Dr I
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 March 2013 Ends: 01 September 2015 Value (£): 100,023
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Building Ops & Management Civil Engineering Materials
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Jan 2013 Engineering Prioritisation Meeting - 24/25 January 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Smart thermochromic windows whose insulation properties are tuned by the ambient temperature have been investigated extensively over recent years to improve energy efficiency of commercial and residential buildings. These windows are typically coated with thermochromic materials that exhibit a fully reversible, temperature dependent transition between semiconductor and metallic phases. During hot weather, a smart window passes all or part of the visible radiation incident and rejects the majority of the Sun's near-infrared radiation; thus the need for air conditioning is reduced. During cooler weather, both visible and infrared (IR) radiation is fully transmitted, limiting the need for internal heating. A popular material for such intelligent coatings is Vanadium dioxide (VO2) due to i) the radiation stop-band manifesting in the IR region, ii) the advantage that it can easily be applied to large substrates and iii) the ability to lower its phase transition temperature by doping it with metal compounds, most commonly tungsten. Calculations have shown that a VO2 coating can deliver a 30% reduction in energy consumption of buildings in countries with hot climates such as Italy and Egypt. Nonetheless, the merits of VO2 coatings quickly diminish in colder climates and in places like Helsinki or Moscow they, in fact, deliver a negative energy balance.

One very important factor for this performance reversal is the high refractive index that VO2 exhibits in its cold-transparent phase, which results in a large portion of the incident light being reflected - 30%-35% in the visible for a 50 nm thick VO2 film on glass. This figure compares with <4% reflectivity in conventional glass windows, meaning that a thermochromic window is much darker and colder than its plain glass counterpart in the winter, which in turn translates to an actual increase in the energy required for lighting and heating a building. In addition, dirt and stains further degrade the transmission properties of a smart window.

In order to overcome the above limitations, moth-eye type structures engineered to exhibit broadband and wide-angle antireflection properties are proposed, for the first time, to substantially improve the currently poor transmission properties of thermochromic smart windows and to pave the way for the commercialization of this technology. Our nanopatterned windows potentially have 72% higher transmission compared to existing thermochromic windows and in addition, they exhibit simultaneous self-cleaning properties without additional processing. This challenging, proof-of-concept, 24-month research project focuses on the fabrication and characterization of smart windows enhanced with moth-eye nanostructures and is divided into two research streams: A) Fabrication and characterization of antireflection and self-cleaning moth-eye nanostructures directly onto glass, appropriate for new high-end window products. B) Development of potentially low-cost thermochromic polymer thin-film to retrofit existing non-smart windows.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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