Let the sun shine in: Customizable smart window balances energy production with user design preferences

ūüĆě SOLAR:¬†A Midwest collaboration has resulted in a new smart window that could generate energy while also adjusting to the user‚Äôs preferences.

Scientists at¬†Argonne National Laboratory,¬†Northwestern University, the¬†University of Chicago¬†and¬†University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee¬†contributed to the design,¬†which uses solar cell technology¬†to convert sunlight to electricity. The project aimed to balance energy capture with design ‚ÄĒ a challenge for previous smart windows.

  • The prototype is made from dozens of layers of materials, including perovskite and a nanophotonic coating that control the amount and frequency of light that is allowed to pass through. It also controls the amount of solar energy converted to electricity.
  • The prototype optimizes design to overcome difficulties in other smart window models, namely balancing indoor light preferences, building temperature, and energy harvesting goals across seasonal changes.
  • ‚ÄúRather than focusing only on the amount of electricity produced by the solar cell, we consider the entire building‚Äôs energy consumption to see how we can best use solar energy to minimize it,‚ÄĚ Wei Chen, an engineering professor at Northwestern,¬†said in a news release. ‚Äč‚ÄúAdditionally, the sunlight that doesn‚Äôt pass through is captured by the solar cell in the smart window and converted into electricity.‚ÄĚ
  • Future work could involve making a flexible smart window that could be retrofitted to cover existing traditional windows.

ūüĒč ENERGY STORAGE:¬†The¬†U.S. Department of Energy¬†is¬†seeking input¬†on the newly released¬†Energy Storage Grand Challenge Draft Roadmap. The roadmap outlines a strategy to accelerate energy storage technology development.

***SPONSORED LINK:¬†The Cleanie Awards ‚ÄĒ the #1 awards program in clean technology ‚ÄĒ is now accepting applications!¬†Submit to win, or¬†contact us¬†with any questions. Applications close July 30.***


  • A¬†Purdue University¬†engineering professor is¬†developing predictive models¬†to estimate the impact that climate change will have on cities‚Äô electricity and water use.


  • Two startups in Chicago and one in Kansas City, Missouri, are among the 10 to receive a combined $1 million from Chicago-based¬†Exelon¬†to¬†develop new climate change mitigation and resilience technologies.¬†Greenprint Partners¬†works on green stormwater infrastructure,¬†NETenergy¬†creates thermal energy storage, and¬†Dynamhex¬†developed an energy consumption tracking software platform.
  • The¬†Nebraska Environmental Trust¬†awarded¬†$1.9 million worth of grants¬†to 21¬†University of Nebraska-Lincoln¬†projects running the gamut from improving water quality to increasing recycling efficiency.
  • The¬†Donald Danforth Plant Science Center¬†in Missouri received a¬†three-year, $1.4 million grant¬†from the¬†National Institute for Food and Agriculture¬†and the¬†National Science Foundation¬†to develop¬†FieldDock, a smart farming platform to boost energy efficiency and reduce water and fertilizer use in farming without compromising production. FieldDock will run on renewable energy and have a zero-carbon footprint.


Contact me with information about other businesses and organizations advancing tech in the Midwest. Send news tips, press releases, and feedback to katie@centered.tech or connect on LinkedIn and Twitter @centereddottech.

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