UK scientists invent self-cleaning windows
Category: Window Cleaning
Experts from University College London have engineered a new type of glass that could bring an end to the need for windows to be manually cleaned, thanks to funding and support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The new glass features an extremely thin coat of vanadium dioxide, of no more than five to ten nanometres thick. This enables the windows to trap heat during periods of cold weather, and prevent potentially harmful radiation from entering a building in hotter spells.
Vanadium dioxide is a relatively cheap and widely-available material, meaning it would not be especially difficult or expensive for energy-efficient, self-cleaning windows to become a common feature of buildings in the near future.
They don't require any cleaning because they are manufactured from a material that is ultra-resistant to water, meaning that any rain hitting the window will form droplets that roll down the glass, collecting any dirt or grime along the way.
Microscopic conical-shaped nanostructures in the glass trap most of the air contained in rain before it hits the window, meaning just a small amount of water comes into contact with the pane, keeping it cleaner for longer.
Dr Ioannis Papakonstantinou, leader of the project, commented: "This is the first time that a nanostructure has been combined with a thermochromic coating.
"The bio-inspired nanostructure amplifies the thermochromic properties of the coating and the net result is a self-cleaning, highly performing smart window."
These windows also have anti-glare properties, reducing the level of light entering a room to under five per cent. Other windows tend to let between 20 and 30 per cent in, demonstrating how well the new self-cleaning windows compare.
Whether or not these windows will come to the mass market anytime soon remains to be seen, but in the meantime, there are window cleaning services available to help those who find the task a laborious chore.