Booming energy costs and stricter regulatory policies have incited a movement toward environmentally friendly building designs, even stirring the creation of programs solely devoted to the subject matter such as the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership Awards. Heeding the call for smarter and more versatile window coatings, Thomas Richardson and Jonathan Slack, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif., have formulated a unique type of Transition Metal Switchable Mirror (TMSM) using a magnesium alloy and a mixture of transition metals (Ni, Mn, etc.).
Based on its composition, the LBL team's TMSM boasts a 22-42% gain in energy savings performance over other low emissivity glazings and a significant decrease in cost compared to similar mirrors constructed with rare-earth metals. The key to the TMSM's usefulness is its reflective electrochromic property which enables it to switch from a transparent, to a mirrored, or partially mirrored state to accommodate the needs of the user. This is accomplished by applying a small electrical current across the surface of the mirror. The potential energy savings from this technology could result in more than 25% of the energy currently lost through home and commercial windows.
* More info: www.lbl.gov