Nanophotonics-enabled smart windows, buildings and wearables

Publisher:
De Gruyter
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Nanophotonics, 2016, 5 (1), pp. 55 - 73
Issue Date:
2016-06-01
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© 2016 Geoff Smith et al., published by De Gruyter Open.Design and production of spectrally smart windows, walls, roofs and fabrics has a long history, which includes early examples of applied nanophotonics. Evolving nanoscience has a special role to play as it provides the means to improve the functionality of these everyday materials. Improvement in the quality of human experience in any location at any time of year is the goal. Energy savings, thermal and visual comfort indoors and outdoors, visual experience, air quality and better health are all made possible by materials, whose "smartness" is aimed at designed responses to environmental energy flows. The spectral and angle of incidence responses of these nanomaterials must thus take account of the spectral and directional aspects of solar energy and of atmospheric thermal radiation plus the visible and color sensitivity of the human eye. The structures required may use resonant absorption, multilayer stacks, optical anisotropy and scattering to achieve their functionality. These structures are, in turn, constructed out of particles, columns, ultrathin layers, voids, wires, pure and doped oxides, metals, polymers or transparent conductors (TCs). The need to cater for wavelengths stretching from 0.3 to 35 μm including ultraviolet-visible, near-infrared (IR) and thermal or Planck radiation, with a spectrally and directionally complex atmosphere, and both being dynamic, means that hierarchical and graded nanostructures often feature. Nature has evolved to deal with the same energy flows, so biomimicry is sometimes a useful guide.
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