As climate change intensifies summer heat, the demand for technologies to cool buildings increases. Now researchers report in ACS Energy Letters that they used advanced computer technology and artificial intelligence to design a transparent window covering that could lower the temperature inside buildings, without expending a single watt of energy.
Studies have estimated that cooling accounts for around 15% of global energy consumption. This demand could be reduced with a window covering that could block the sun’s ultraviolet and near-infrared light – the parts of the solar spectrum that typically pass through glass to heat an enclosed room. Energy consumption could be further reduced if the coating radiates heat from the window surface at a wavelength that passes through the atmosphere into outer space. However, it is difficult to design materials that can meet these criteria simultaneously and can also transmit visible light, i.e. they do not interfere with sight. Eungkyu Lee, Tengfei Luo and their colleagues set out to design a “transparent radiative cooler” (TRC) that could do just that.
The team built computer models of CRT consisting of alternating thin layers of common materials like silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, aluminum oxide or titanium dioxide on a glass base, topped with a polydimethylsiloxane film. They optimized the type, order and combination of layers using an iterative approach guided by machine learning and quantum computing, which stores data using subatomic particles. This computational method performs optimization faster and better than conventional computers because it can efficiently test all possible combinations in a fraction of a second. This has produced a coating design that when fabricated outperforms conventionally designed TRCs in addition to one of the best commercial heat reducing glasses on the market.
In hot, dry cities, according to the researchers, the optimized CRT could potentially reduce cooling energy consumption by 31% compared to conventional windows. They note that their findings could be applied to other applications, since TRCs could also be used on car and truck windows. Additionally, the group’s quantum computing-based optimization technique could be used to design other types of composite materials.
The authors acknowledge support from the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Notre Dame Center for Research Computing.
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Transparent window covering could cool buildings without using energy News Physics and Quantum Computing
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