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Smart Glass: Not Just For Windows

Over the past few years, glass used for windows has become increasingly more energy efficient due to new techniques and designs.

Traditionally made windows can lose up to 30% of a home’s energy and cause heat fluctuations.

Smart glasses are one innovative update in the window design world that considerably increases energy efficacy.

Researchers have found that thinly coating vanadium dioxide nanoparticles with a specialized film helps windows function at a heightened level, therefore increasing energy saving capabilities. Applied to films and the materials used to make glass, smart glasses like BioGlass use this application.

Glass for windows has customarily been made from metal layers, among other components. The newer films allow the windows to alter infrared diffusion through temperature sensitivity. They also provide ultraviolet protection and are made entirely from recycled glass.

In addition to windows, smart glasses are also being used to make countertops, wall panels, and can be incorporated into furniture and even used to craft jewelry. Smart glass is also being considered for use in the automotive industries as easily maintainable windshields, dashboards, mirrors and sunroofs.

But it turns out this serviceable design is showing up in more places than just windows and interiors. Researchers have also been looking into materials that can assist broken bones in the healing process.

They looked at the tendency of bones to be able to regenerate after being somewhat damaged, but also took into account that if the damage extended beyond this range, the bone is then not able to restructure itself. At this stage it will need assistance in the repair, requiring usually more than one operative procedure.

In studying smart glass as a possible alternative material, they found that types of the glass can be utilized to actually aid in fixing broken bones, and can be formed into biodegradable bioimplants.

Due to their varying compositions, bioglasses can astonishingly fuse bone and soft tissue. Also, some bioimplants can be absorbed once bones are set. The implanted section actually is capable of dissolving itself as the bone repairs and inhabits its space.

The polymer, which was typically used, is not strong enough alone for this procedure so study investigators added BioGlass to the mix in order to strengthen the bone’s developmental properties. Also, as discovered in the window design, BioGlass thus far has been found to be more thermally stable.

From finding ways to produce a more resourceful window to uncovering improved ways to mend bones, when science and technology combine to find more efficient solutions the outcomes are impressive.

Image Source: Bioimplants from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Faculty of Technical Engineering in Bilbao, UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country.

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