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How Solar Windows Could Save Energy In Every Home

By Maria Cook

Self-tinting sunglasses have grown popular in recent years. For many people, it's easy to see the appeal. Instead of having to carry two different pairs of glasses and switch every time the light changes, those with prescription eyeglasses can step into the sun with the same pair of glasses they wear indoors, with complete protection. But what if such technology wasn't limited to eyeglasses? What if, for example, the windows in our homes could perform a similar, self-tinting feat?

Scientists at the University of Princeton published a recent study in the journal Nature Energy which describes their research on this very subject. In fact, thanks to their findings, such windows may soon be coming to a home or other building near you. According to Newatlas, these researchers have developed a smart window system which uses solar power to grow darker and lighter, depending on the specifications of its owner. The most impressive thing about the design? The way the window system utilizes every part of the sun's light, from the UV rays to the infrared light, to create the desired effect. 

Many solar-powered devices utilize only the infrared part of the light spectrum for energy, blocking UV rays altogether. But, according to Newatlas, this new smart window system uses both infrared and UV rays, for maximum efficiency. According to Yueh-Lin Loo, an author of the Princeton study, this new window system is "actually smart management of the entire spectrum of sunlight. Using near-UV light to power these windows means that the solar cells can be transparent and occupy the same footprint of the window without competing for the same spectral range or imposing aesthetic and design constraints."