By combining materials science, physics and engineering, scientists have designed a new nano material that can reflect or transmit light on demand.
This new material has the potential to turn a window into a mirror on demand, control the amount of light passing through your house windows in different seasons, or protect astronauts in space from harmful radiation.
Learn more about the science behind this invention with Year 8, 9 and 10 Physics and Chemistry students.
Word Count / Video length: 278 / 1:40 mins
Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have designed a new nano material that can reflect or transmit light on demand with temperature control, opening the door to technology that protects astronauts in space from harmful radiation.
Lead researcher Dr Mohsen Rahmani said the material was so thin that hundreds of layers could fit on the tip of a needle and could be applied to any surface, including spacesuits.
“Our invention has a lot of potential applications, such as protecting astronauts or satellites with an ultra-thin film that can be adjusted to reflect various dangerous ultraviolet or infrared radiation in different environments,” said Dr Rahmani.
“Our technology significantly increases the resistance threshold against harmful radiation compared to today’s technologies, which rely on absorbing radiation with thick filters.”
Co-researcher Associate Professor Andrey Miroshnichenko said the invention could be tailored for other light spectrums including visible light, which opened up a whole array of innovations, including architectural and energy-saving applications.
“For instance, you could have a window that can turn into a mirror in a bathroom on demand, or control the amount of light passing through your house windows in different seasons,” said Prof. Miroshnichenko.
“What I love about this invention is that the design involved different research disciplines including physics, materials science and engineering.”
Co-lead researcher Dr Lei Xu said achieving cost-efficient and confined temperature control such as local heating was feasible.
“Much like your car has a series of parallel resistive wires on the back windscreen to defog the rearview, a similar arrangement could be used with our invention to confine the temperature control to a precise location,” said Dr Xu.
The window of opportunity has been opened.
For more about this invention, visit ANU Science here.
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