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These Smart Glass Panes Contain Light-Emitting Nanoparticles

11 June 2016, 5:19 am EDT By Catherine Cabral-Isabedra Tech Times
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Smart glass embedded with light-emitting nanoparticles is now possible. Researchers from Australia were able to develop a method that would carefully integrate nanoparticles into glass panels without disrupting their original properties.  ( University of Adelaide )

Light-emitting particles can now be embedded into smart glass panes, scientists have revealed.

Scientists from Australia were able to develop glass panes that can display information and emit light while keeping the natural properties of the glass. They said the answer lies in the overall glass transparency and the process of molding it into a shape, something that they have already figured out — through the use of nanoparticles.

University of Adelaide researchers embedded nanoparticles into the glass panes by synthesizing the glass and nanoparticles separately, then integrating them under specific pre-set conditions, a process they dubbed "direct-doping."

Combining the particles carefully allows both materials to retain much of their natural properties, including transparency and the flexibility of processing into fine optical fibers. Researchers said the process is easier than early methods of smart glass development.

Light-Emitting Smart Glass Applications

Researchers believe that this breakthrough would be beneficial in neuroscience. Fluorescent nanoparticles can assist glass pipettes into precise brain regions. Neuroscientists would no longer rely on the tedious process of applying dye and lasers to hit the specific areas of the brain. Nuclear facilities can also create glass with nanoparticles as remote sensors.

"Integrating these nanoparticles into glass, which is usually inert, opens up exciting possibilities for new hybrid materials and devices that can take advantage of the properties of nanoparticles in ways we haven't been able to do before," said lead researcher Tim Zhao, who is also a physicist at the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Adelaide and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

The technology has a wealth of applications. However, for now, the researchers are working on biomedical imaging, biological sensing and three-dimensional volumetric displays.

Researchers believe that the use can further be expanded. Nanoparticles can be used in conjunction with electronic, photonic and magnetic properties.

"We are heading towards a whole new world of hybrid glass and devices for light-based technologies," said IPAS deputy director Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, who also acted as the project leader.

Nanoparticles have been proven multiple times to have properties that are beneficial across a wide variety of applications. In a recent Tech Times report, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were able to establish nanoparticle catalysts as an alternative to the more expensive precious metals.

To assess the efficacy and safety of nanoparticles to consumers, a group of researchers also developed an imaging technique to identify and visualize engineered nanoparticles in the tissue.

The research was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Melbourne and Macquarie University and was published in the journal Advanced Optical Materials on May 30.

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