Smart glass printing
PI: Steve Elston
Department: Engineering Science
The aim of this IAA project is to produce an A4-size or larger smart glass window pane that has been fabricated using our patent-pending drop-on-demand printing approach. This novel process involves fabricating polymer dispersed liquid crystal membranes by jetting picolitre volumes of liquid crystal into a semi-wet polymer layer, which can then be sandwiched between either glass or transparent flexible substrates. The presence of the liquid crystal layer allows the smart-glass to be switched between a transparent and an opaque state either actively (e.g. through an applied voltage) or passively (e.g. using ambient sunlight) depending upon the mixture formulation. Uniquely, the fabrication process that we have developed allows for the facile patterning of the layer, enabling company logos, emblems and other distinctive features to be written into the panel without the need for complex electrode architectures and alignment processes. Furthermore, it allows for multi-material formulations to be combined into a single panel, which cannot be achieved using existing processes, thereby enhancing functionality. This breakthrough in the manufacturing process has the potential to have considerable impact in smart glazing technology for architectural applications.