Material may offer cheaper alternative to smart windows.
If you’ve ever blown up a balloon or pulled at a pair of pantyhose, you may have noticed that the more the material stretches, the more transparent it becomes. It’s a simple enough observation: the thinner a material, the more light shines through.
Now MIT scientists have come up with a theory to predict exactly how much light is transmitted through a material, given its thickness and degree of stretch. Using this theory, they accurately predicted the changing transparency of a rubber-like polymer structure as it was stretched like a spring and inflated like a balloon.
Francisco López Jiménez, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, says the researchers’ experimental polymer structure and their predictive understanding of it may be useful in the design of cheaper materials for smart windows — surfaces that automatically adjust the amount of incoming light.