A window-glazing system developed by an EPFL team from the SCCER FEEB&D uses micro-mirrors to improve the lighting and visual comfort inside buildings and could also make window blinds obsolete one day. The European Patent Office has just granted the system patent protection.
“This patent shows that our approach is original and that our system is unique and merits patent protection,” says Andreas Schüler, a research associate at the LESO-PB. “It’s also reassuring for industry, in the event manufacturers want to use this discovery in the future.” Schüler designed the system together with PhD student Jing Gong and André Kostro, a researcher currently based in Basel.
Schüler’s team fitted their windows with a layer of micro-mirrors whose thickness ranges from 0.15 to 0.2 millimeters. This allows the windows to make better use of natural light in the room and reduce both heating and cooling costs in the building. In the summer, the micro-mirrors reflect light back outward, which eliminates direct sunlight and overheating. In the winter, the micro-mirrors redirect light into the building to improve the occupants’ visual comfort.
But will people get used to this new system? The answer will come from the NEST in Dübendorf (Zurich Canton), a futuristic house where the LESO-PB’s innovation will soon be put to the test.
For details please see EPFL’s press release.