Automotive Smart Windows

Biaxially conformable, tintable lightweight LC cells for automotive applications

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Dynamically control light

The ability to dynamically control the light and heat entering a vehicle has become a common request of consumers and manufacturers, allowing users to control the interior environment whilst reducing the thermal load, reducing air conditioning requirement and increasing vehicle range.

Liquid crystal (LC) cells are a clear candidate for light modulation, but conventional glass-based cells provide too much of a design constraint because they cannot follow the complex contours of automotive glass, as well as being heavy and adding thickness to the windows.

Our unique manufacturing process using plastic substrates enables tintable LC films that can be biaxially curved to fit the design requirements of modern vehicles, adding virtually no extra weight.

With a thickness of <100 microns, the film can be integrated within the two glass layers typically used in automotive windows. This allows automotive designers and manufacturers to integrate smart windows that can rapidly switch in <0.1s from clear to dark or anything in between to control glare, interior temperature, or for privacy and comfort.

Benefits

  • Colour neutral, rapid switching LC cells
  • Adjustable light transmission – clear, tinted or anything in-between
  • Dynamic range tunable by design with dark states as low as 1% and clear states as high as 80%
  • Can be segmented into different dimming regions
  • Lightweight and ultra-thin (100 micron) LC cells that can be embedded within automotive glazing
  • Biaxially conformable to the complex curves of car windows
  • Low power consumption
  • Simple low-temperature production process compatible with existing display fabs

The technology

Automotive smart windows use the ability of LC to modulate light when a voltage is applied across the cell. Traditionally, LC devices have been manufactured on glass, bringing constraints in weight, thickness and shape, until now.

Our unique capability to manufacture large area electronics (including transistors made of organic semiconductors) at temperatures below 100°C means that ultra-thin bioplastic films can be used as a substrate instead of glass, removing major design constraints and unlocking many advantages and new applications – enabling active surfaces almost anywhere.

An example smart window stack