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Thursday, 19 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Applications, Decorative coatings

Spanish scientists’ find could transform photochromic response

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A development by Spanish researchers could revolutionise smart coatings for windows, agricultural films... and the comfort of anyone working in climatic extremes.

Photoprotective coatings for smart windows developed   Source: Atlas Material Testing Technology GmbH

Photoprotective coatings for smart windows developed   Source: Atlas Material Testing Technology GmbH

Researchers at the Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia  http://www.icn.cat/ and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona http://www.uab.es/ have developed a new fast-response photochromic film. Likely commercial applications include photo-protective coatings for smart windows, agricultural film and packaging, and helmets.

Photochromic materials undergo a reversible colour change, usually from a colourless state to a coloured one, upon irradiation by UV-Vis light, and are used as photoprotective coatings in smart windows, ophthalmic lenses and in other niche applications. However, wider practical application has been limited by the deceleration of the colour change when the materials are dispersed in polymer matrices, owing to interference by the polymer chains with the photochromic molecules.

Oil core - colour change ten times faster

The team, led by Professor Daniel Ruiz-Molina of ICN2′s Nanostructured Functional Materials Group, and Dr Jordi Hernando from the UAB’s Department of Organic Chemistry, discovered that encapsulating the photochromic component in oil-core, stable polymeric capsules allows it to interconvert at solution-like rates, changing colour 10-times faster than when directly dispersed into the polymer.

The new super-responsive photochromic materials offer improved efficiencies over those of existing products available in the market, including a longer lifespan, at lower fabrication costs and with improved integration processes.The team has applied for a patent PCT/ES2013/070132 for the materials, and its findings are detailed in the September issue of Advanced Optical Materials http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adom.201300121/abstract.

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