The “fluid window” developed with a hint from squid contributes to the reduction of energy consumption!

On January 31, 2023, the University of Toronto issued a press release announcing it had developed a squid-inspired “fluid window.” So, how does this flow window work? And what will it be used for? This time, I would like to introduce the following topic.

A “window that changes properties” inspired by a squid whose skin color changes

Below is a structural diagram of a fluid window published by the University of Toronto. This window has a multi-layered structure, and each layer is independently injected with a different fluid. The fluids have different functions: those that completely absorb sunlight, those that reflect only specific wavelengths, those that scatter light, and those that absorb only light in the infrared region.

The characteristic of this window is that its properties can be changed according to the purpose. If you want to block the sun, you can fill it with a fluid that absorbs sunlight completely, and if you want to warm it up, you can pour a fluid that absorbs in the infrared region. It could also brighten up the lighting in a room by reflecting and scattering certain wavelengths of light. By providing these functions, it is possible to save about 25% of the energy consumed by air conditioning and lighting in the building annually.

So how did the University of Toronto research team conceive of this multi-layered “fluid window”? The squid was the hint. Squid skin dynamically changes color depending on the surrounding environment and threats. The mechanism of the change is that the skin is made up of layers of special organs, such as chromatophores that control light absorption and ylidephores that contribute to reflection and iridescence. Inspired by the structure of the squid’s skin, they thought that if they could control the temperature and lighting, it would lead to the reduction of energy consumption.

The results of this research will be published in PNAS on January 30, 2023.

How was it? The team’s next goal is to use artificial intelligence to allow windows to adjust heating, cooling and sunlight intensity. If realized, it will be a very intelligent window. And isn’t it a very good example of biomimetic research that imitates living things?

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