[Originally posted at EcoGeek. I’m not sure if this is a better or more cost-effective option to electrochromic glass or some other interesting new materials. The patterning that looks possible with this suggests some intriguing new options for facades. The best use of this material could come in other directions, though.]


Glass buildings can provide an appealing environment of light and openness, but too much sunlight will over heat the building, as well as creating glare. While conventional shades can be used to control light levels, a new option is to use a low power material attached to the glass that can quickly adjust to increase shading or let more light in as needed.

As shown by their presentation, the shading system developed by designers Decker Yeadon can be installed in an organic configuration to highlight the biomimetic nature of this material. These shades use a dielectric elastomer, which is stressed and changes configuration when a charge is applied. When actuated with a low-power electric charge, tension in the dielectric increases, which causes it to contract. As it does so, it pulls on the flexible polymer core inside it, causing the assembly to spread open and increase the shading.

The video clip demonstrates how it works with a sample section of the material that looks something like a butterfly opening and closing its wings. The dielectric surfaces of the material are coated with silver which acts as a conductor for the low power current needed to activate the material, as well as being an excellent reflector of sunlight to provide rejection of excessive daylight when acting as a shade.

Read the entire article at EcoGeek. And check out the Decker Yeadon video which demonstrates how it works. It’s only 2 minutes long, and this is the sort of thing that benefits from a moving visual explanation.