Thin films for advanced glazing applications
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© 2016 by the authors.Functional thin films provide many opportunities for advanced glazing systems. This can be achieved by adding additional functionalities such as self-cleaning or power generation, or alternately by providing energy demand reduction through the management or modulation of solar heat gain or blackbody radiation using spectrally selective films or chromogenic materials. Self-cleaning materials have been generating increasing interest for the past two decades. They may be based on hydrophobic or hydrophilic systems and are often inspired by nature, for example hydrophobic systems based on mimicking the lotus leaf. These materials help to maintain the aesthetic properties of the building, help to maintain a comfortable working environment and in the case of photocatalytic materials, may provide external pollutant remediation. Power generation through window coatings is a relatively new idea and is based around the use of semi-transparent solar cells as windows. In this fashion, energy can be generated whilst also absorbing some solar heat. There is also the possibility, in the case of dye sensitized solar cells, to tune the coloration of the window that provides unheralded external aesthetic possibilities. Materials and coatings for energy demand reduction is highly desirable in an increasingly energy intensive world. We discuss new developments with low emissivity coatings as the need to replace scarce indium becomes more apparent. We go on to discuss thermochromic systems based on vanadium dioxide films. Such systems are dynamic in nature and present a more sophisticated and potentially more beneficial approach to reducing energy demand than static systems such as low emissivity and solar control coatings. The ability to be able to tune some of the material parameters in order to optimize the film performance for a given climate provides exciting opportunities for future technologies. In this article, we review recent progress and challenges in these areas and provide a perspective for future trends and developments.