Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Electrochromic Polymers Create Broad Color Palette for Sunglasses, Windows

09.02.2015

Artists, print designers and interior decorators have long had access to a broad palette of paint and ink colors for their work. Now, researchers have created a broad color palette of electrochromic polymers, materials that can be used for sunglasses, window tinting and other applications that rely on electrical current to produce color changes.

By developing electrochromic polymer materials in a range of primary and secondary colors and combining them in specific blends, the researchers have covered the color spectrum – even creating four shades of brown, a particularly difficult color combination. The materials could be used to make sunglasses that change from tinted to clear in a matter of seconds, at the press of a button. Other uses could include window tinting, signage and even greeting cards that change color through the application of low-voltage electrical current.


Credit: Rob Felt

Samples show some of the colors researchers have produced in electrochromic polymers. The materials can be used for applications such as sunglasses and window tinting that can be turned on and off through the application of an electrical potential.

Supported by BASF, the research is reported in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The research was done in the laboratory of John Reynolds, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemisty and the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“We’ve demonstrated the ability to create virtually any color we want by mixing different electrochromic polymers, just like mixing paint,” said Anna Österholm, a research scientist in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the paper’s first author. “Using a simple coating method or even inkjet printing, we can create films that change color with the application of a voltage.”

The many colors that have been developed by Reynolds’ group over the years include magenta, cyan, yellow, orange, blue and green polymers that can be dissolved in common solvents. In addition, blends of these polymer solutions can be predictably mixed to target specific colors.

To demonstrate the capabilities, the researchers created brown lenses for sunglasses using a five-layer sandwich of materials, including a film of the electrochromic material, a charge storage layer and a UV-curable electrolyte, with a cathode and anode layer on either side.

The lenses can be switched between a colored and colorless state by applying a brief pulse of electrical current and do not need a continuous power supply. To maintain the colorless state, a brief refresh pulse needs to be applied approximately every 30 minutes; however, the colored state can be stable for up to several days. The materials can switch from about 10 percent transmittance to 70 percent transmittance – and back – in a few seconds.

The brown shades are created by combining cyan and yellow primary colors with orange and periwinkle-blue secondary colors.

Photochromic sunglasses, which darken in response to light using a silver halide reaction, are already on the market. But many of these lenses respond to ultraviolet wavelengths that are filtered out by automobile windshields, require several minutes to transition – and can’t be controlled by users. The passive switching time can be problematic for pilots, drivers, security officers or others who move quickly between light and dark environments.

“In contrast, by using electrochromic polymers, we can create devices that by pushing a button, can be converted from dark to clear,” said Österholm. “They are completely user-controlled, and it doesn’t matter whether they are being used indoors or outdoors, in a vehicle or an aircraft.”

The electrochromic materials rely on a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction triggered by the application of an electrical potential provided by a simple coin battery: a positive one volt causes the glasses to be clear, while a minus one volt switches to the color. “Essentially, we are just charging and discharging the device, which is what causes the color change,” explained Eric Shen, a postdoctoral fellow in the Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The electrochromic materials represent years of work by the Reynolds Laboratory to synthesize polymers whose repeat-unit structures provide the desired palette of colors. Because they can be dissolved in the same solvents, additional colors can be created by combining specific quantities of the primary and secondary colors.

“Anything that you would want to have change color at the push of a button would be an application for these,” said Shen. “We have shown that we can switch them on and off thousands of times, and that we can shine strong light on them without causing degradation of the color.”

The researchers have used simple spray and blade-coating techniques to create films of the colorful materials. They now are using ink-jet printing to create patterns and mix the polymers to create colors.

“The ink-jetting is very versatile when you want to make patterns or very fine features with these materials,” Shen said. “The fact that the polymers are so soluble makes it quite easy to process them using anything that would spread an ink.”

In addition to the researchers already mentioned, the paper’s co-authors include Justin Kerszulis and Rayford Bulloch from Georgia Tech, Michael Kuepfert from BASF in Tarrytown, New York; and Aubrey Dyer from Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia.

CITATION: Anna M. Österholm, et al., “Four Shades of Brown: Tuning of Electrochromic Polymer Blends Toward High-Contrast Eyewear,” (ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2015). http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1021/am507063d

Research News
Georgia Institute of Technology
177 North Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0181 USA

Media Relations Contacts: John Toon (404-894-6986) (jtoon@gatech.edu) or Brett Israel (404-385-1933) (brett.israel@comm.gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

John Toon | newswise
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

Further reports about: Applied Materials Palette Polymers lenses materials sunglasses

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New biomaterial could replace plastic laminates, greatly reduce pollution
21.09.2017 | Penn State

nachricht Stopping problem ice -- by cracking it
21.09.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>