Climate change is making the planet warmer by the year, leading to ever-increasing demand and cost of energy needed to keep buildings and automobiles cool. But a novel transparent window coating may drastically reduce the need for cooling without using any energy.
The science and other stuff to know
The heat from sunlight is carried mostly by ultraviolet and near-infrared light that pass through glass windows. But scientists have always found it difficult to produce a heat-resisting shield that could offer high visible transparency and keep the temperature down simultaneously.
Up until now.
A research team of scientists from the University of Notre Dame and Kyung Hee University has managed to develop a “transparent radiative cooler” (TRC) based on “layered photonic structures” with the aid of quantum computing. According to the study published in ACS Energy Letters, the process utilizes quantum computing-assisted “active learning scheme that combines active data production, machine learning, and quantum annealing in an iterative loop.”
Thin layers of common materials, such as silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, aluminum oxide, or titanium dioxide, were layered on top of a polydimethylsiloxane film on a glass base by researchers.
Next, they fiddled with the combination and patterns of the layers using machine learning and quantum computing that predicted the best possible grouping for maximum efficiency. As a result, the team arrived at a coating that not only outdid conventional TRCs but also performed significantly better than the best-in-class heat-reduction glass available commercially, according to a press release.
This summer, the world saw some of the worst climate-induced calamities, including super floods in Pakistan, China’s worst heat wave in six decades, and a prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa. These events are a direct result of a warming planet, and the world is contemplating all it can to contain global temperature rise.
With the cost of keeping the world cool accounting for nearly 20 percent of the total electricity used in buildings around the world today, initiatives like the super-efficient TRCs are welcome news. They will not only help fight environmental degradation at the global level but also help individual and commercial consumers save big on energy costs.
Researchers estimate that the optimized TRCs will prove especially useful in regions with hotter climates and could potentially reduce energy costs by 31 percent. They added that the coating could also prove beneficial in the transport sector in applications for windscreens and windows.
For an increasingly warming planet, anything that helps reduce the consumption of energy would help. Here’s to hoping the technology makes its way to commercial usage much sooner than later.