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2016 News in Brief



Polymer may offer cheaper alternative to smart windows

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PHOTO: MIT postdoc Francisco López Jiménez stretches a rectangular sheet of the polymer PDMS he and his colleagues used to predict how much light is transmitted when a specific mechanical force is applied.

A team of scientists led by Professor Pedro Reis has developed a theory to predict how much light is transmitted through a material and the transparency of a polymer structure as it stretches and inflates. The researchers’ newfound understanding of polymer structure may be useful in the design of cheaper materials for smart windows. “For buildings and windows that automatically react to light, you don’t have to spend as much on heating and air conditioning,” said Francisco López Jiménez, a CEE postdoc in Professor Reis’s lab. “The problem is, these materials are too expensive to produce for every window in a building. Our idea was to look for a simpler and cheaper way to let through more or less light, by stretching a very simple material: a transparent polymer that is readily available.” Read the story.