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Smart windows can change the opacity

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New Delhi: Researchers from Harvard University have developed a technique that can quickly change the opacity of a window, turning it cloudy, clear or somewhere in between with the flick of a switch.

Previous technologies used in “tunable” windows relied on electrochemical reactions and were very expensive.

“However, the new technology uses geometry to adjust the transparency of a window which is a much cheaper option,” said David Clarke from Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The “tunable” window is comprised of a sheet of glass or plastic, sandwiched between transparent, soft elastomers sprayed with a coating of silver nanowires, too small to scatter light on their own.

With an applied voltage, the nanowires on either side of the glass are energised to move toward each other, squeezing and deforming the soft elastomer.

Since the nanowires are distributed unevenly across the surface, the elastomer deforms unevenly.

The resulting roughness causes light to scatter, turning the glass opaque in less than a second.

“It’s like a frozen pond. If the frozen pond is smooth, you can see through the ice. But if the ice is heavily scratched, you can’t see through,” added postdoctoral fellow Samuel Shian in a paper that appeared in the journal Optics Letters.

“Because this is a physical phenomenon rather than based on a chemical reaction, it is a simpler and potentially cheaper way to achieve commercial tunable windows,” Clarke noted.

The team is now working on incorporating thinner elastomers, which would require lower voltages, more suited for standard electrical supplies. (IANS)

(Image Courtesy: lerablog.org/)

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ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk

The Britain-built satellite, named RemoveDEBRIS mission

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ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk
ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk, pixabay

The first-ever satellite to test possible solutions in cleaning up space junk has been deployed by the International Space Station (ISS) and would soon begin experiments in orbit.

The Britain-built satellite, named RemoveDEBRIS mission, is one of the world’s first attempts to tackle the build-up of dangerous space debris orbiting the Earth, the British space agency said in a statement late on Friday.

The 100-kg RemoveDebris spacecraft will attempt to capture simulated space debris using a net and a harpoon while also testing advanced cameras and radar systems.

The experiment is important as there are thousands of pieces of space debris circulating the planet, many travelling faster than a speeding bullet, posing a risk to valuable satellites and even the International Space Station itself, the report stated.

Once the experiments are complete, it will unfurl a drag sail to bring itself and the debris out of orbit, where it will burn up as it enters the earth’s atmosphere.

satellite
satellite, Pixabay

“If successful, the technologies found in RemoveDEBRIS could be included in other missions in the very near future,” said Guglielmo Aglietti, Professor at the University of Surrey.

The RemoveDEBRIS mission is led by the varsity and built by the world’s leading small satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), with technology on board designed by Airbus.

Also read: NASA’s Dawn Mission- New Orbit, New Opportunities

It was launched on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from Florida in April. (IANS)

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