Window Turns to Mirror with the Flick of a Switch


Once again life imitates Woody Allen's Sleeper, with a mirrored glass that that turns transparent at the flick of a switch. This is not the first switchable glass but they are usually awfully expensive. Most have been based on liquid crystals and did not do much to stop or reflect heat. It is a double-glazed unit with a thin coating of a magnesium-titanium alloy and a thinner layer of palladium. Somehow through the wonders of refraction, if you fill the gap between the glazing with hydrogen it is reflective, and with oxygen it is transparent. Scientists Kazuki Yoshimura and Shanhu Bao say "The thin film showed excellent switching characteristics. . . . The change between states is very impressive." although we have trouble visualizing the switching mechanism. The scientists estimate that having buildings in mirror mode could save up to 30% on air conditioning, and we can design buildings like it's 1975 again. ::Phys Org

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