Volume 35, Number 12, December 2000

Technology

Electrochromic Glazing Unfolds


Some think electrochromic glazing may soon revolutionize the industry, according to an article in the Spring 2000 issue of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division News. In electrochromic glazing, the glass can transform from clear to a transparent, colored state with just the flick of a switch, allowing the windows to conserve energy. According to the article, electrochromic glazings could reduce the electricity used in commercial buildings by 20 to 30 percent.

Although testing continues on the electrochromic glass and, currently, electrochromic glazing is only expected to be available in standard-sized windows and a limited number of large windows, experts expect that large-area windows (90- by 200-cm) will become more readily available and at an affordable cost soon afterwards.

Genesis Equipped with Metallic Glass Solar Wind Collector

National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Genesis spacecraft will take off in February with a solar wind collector, made of a new formula of bulk metallic glass, composed of the same class of material as high-tech golf clubs. According to the California Institute of Technology and NASA, the metallic glass solar wind collector tiles on the spacecraft will collect the first-ever samples of the solar wind as the spacecraft floats in the oncoming solar stream.

The bulk metallic glass was created specifically for the Genesis spacecraft and is made up of a mixture of metals with properties similar to other glasses: zirconium, niobium, copper, nickel and aluminum.

“One exciting thing about bulk metallic glass is that it will enable us to study ions with energies higher than the solar wind,” said Dr. Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology, the leader of the Genesis team.

Through the use of the bulk metallic glass, this will be the first time different theories about solar wind can be tested by bringing back actual samples, according to Burnett. The scientists’ reasoning for using such a type of glass is that it absorbs helium and neon, important elements of the sun and planets.