Seeing the Light

Terrabytes-Window ArtBy Lee Anna Sherman

In the green-construction field, there’s a window technology called “Low-E,” the user-friendly term for “low emissivity.” Now Oregon scientists and startups have joined forces to create the next generation of Low-E — an anti-reflective, thin-film coating for glass that will block infrared heat (keeping heat inside during winter’s cold and keeping heat outside during summer’s sizzle) and allow more visible light to penetrate year-round.

This “new recipe” for advanced, energy-efficient window coatings got a big push toward the marketplace in March, when Oregon BEST (Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center) awarded a commercialization grant to an industry-university team to support research, testing and product development. Oregon State’s Chih-hung Chang and University of Oregon’s G.Z. “Charlie” Brown will be working with startup companies CSD Nano of Corvallis and Indow Windows of Portland.

The saved energy and reduced costs could be gigantic, says Paul Ahrens, CEO of the OSU spinout company CSD Nano. “If you were to put the coating we’re developing on all the architectural glass out there, you would save hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity currently used for lighting,” says Ahrens.