A new metamaterial developed by a team of engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder has the ability to passively cool objects, even under direct sunlight.
The new material is a glass-polymer hybrid that measures 50 micrometers thick and reflects incoming solar energy while simultaneously allowing the surface it is applied to shed heat in the form of infrared thermal radiation, CU Boulder Today reports.
In order to accomplish the dual tasks of reflecting solar energy while also allowing infrared radiation to escape, the engineers embedded visibly-scattering but infrared-radiant glass microspheres into a polymer film. A thin silver coating was added underneath to achieve maximum spectral reflectance.
One of the researchers said through the addition of 10 to 20 sm of the material to a single-family rooftop, the house can be significantly cooled down in the summer. Because the metamaterial can be produced economically on rolls, applications can range from small single-family homes to large commercial projects.
Additionally, the glass-polymer hybrid can be used to improve the efficiency and lifetime of solar panels by preventing them from overheating, which reduces the ability to convert solar rays into electricity.
The next step for the researchers is to create a 200-sm “cooling farm” prototype this year while they wait to hear back regarding a patent.
Click here to read the original article and for images of the new material.