In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers from Aalto University claim they have created a new material to design “truly one-way glass.” Photo courtesy of Ihar Faniayeu/University of Gothenburg.

A team of researchers has developed a new approach to designing one-way glass. In a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers from Aalto University claim they have created a new material to design “truly one-way glass.”

The metamaterials can be tailored with specific electromagnetic properties. This means scientists can create materials with features that can be used for industrial applications, such as glass.

“Just imagine having a window with that glass in your house, office or car,” said Shadi Safaei Jazi, a doctoral researcher at Aalto. “Regardless of the brightness outside, people wouldn’t be able to see anything inside, while you would enjoy a perfect view from your window. If technology succeeds, this one-way glass could also make solar cells more efficient by blocking the thermal emissions that existing cells radiate back toward the sun, which reduces the amount of energy they capture.”

According to the study, “Optical Tellegen Metamaterial with Spontaneous Magnetization,” the new metamaterial takes advantage of the nonreciprocal magnetoelectric (NME) effect.

The researchers said the NME effect implies a link between specific properties of the material (its magnetization and polarization) and the different field components of light or other electromagnetic waves. The effect is negligible in natural materials, but scientists have been trying to enhance it using metamaterials and metasurfaces because of the technological potential this would unlock.

The new material opens up applications that would otherwise need a strong external magnetic field to work, such as one-way glass. The researchers explained that glass sold as “one-way” is semi-transparent, allowing light to stream through both sides. The NME-based one-way glass wouldn’t need a difference in brightness because light could only go through it in one direction.

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