Self-Powered Smart Windows Make Their Own Electricity

Smart windows can save up to 40% on heating and cooling costs in commercial buildings and high-rise residence towers. In addition, they can save on electricity by providing more natural light for the interior of buildings during the day.

Lots of companies are working on bringing this technology to market, but there is one significant drawback to smart windows that is keeping them from wide acceptance. They need to draw power from the building’s electrical system in order to function. Small changes in voltage can make big differences in opacity and heat rejection but even limited amounts of power have to come from someplace.

Researchers at Princeton think they have come up with the solution — smart windows that also act as solar panels to generate the small voltages they need to operate. With no need to connect them to the local electrical system, such windows would be inexpensive to install. In the alternative, the process could be added to existing windows quickly and economically....more