Buildings in cold climates tend to use thermally insulated glass to reduce energy use. Current industrial solutions use double or triple pane windows separated by air or inert gas for thermal insulation. Double or triple pane windows, however, require high quality sealing for gas retention, window frame retrofitting, and at least two panes of window glass. This means that they are expensive and complicated to manufacture. Moreover, many older buildings are designed for single pane windows and not structurally fit to hold the weight of two panes. Alehough aerogel and and aggregate nanoparticle materials provide for a practical, alternative thermal insulation solution, they are manufactured with expensive supercritical drying techniques and lack the optical properties for window glass. This poses a need for a new material or system of materials that can achieve the thermal properties of double pane windows at a fraction of the cost while also being optically clear.
UCLA researchers have developed Thermally Insulating Transparent Barrier (THINNER) coatings for single pane windows. The three-layer composite contains a substrate-free (free-standing monolith), porous ambigel with high transmittance in the visible spectrum, a low-emissive coating and optically compatible adhesive. The ambigel coating is also made and dries at ambient temperature and pressure, eliminating the high cost associated with ambigels. The coating is also hydrophobici in nature, reducing moisture retention.
The system of a combined ambigel with a low-emissivity coating on one side and a transparent adhesive on the other allows facile on-line application of the system to a sheet of glass. Additionally, this system can be applied to a preinstalled window in a building with single or double pane windows to improve thermal insulation without purchasing an entirely new window. In this way, the system can help reduce waste and costs by simple incorporation with both modern manufacturing facilities and current products.
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