Mind & Matter


Illuminating Window

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Switchable, transparent OLEDs. Photo by BASF/Philips.

Multifunctionalism and deep integration are two traits that increasingly define emergent material technologies. One such technology is a switchable OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) panel that doubles as a transparent window. Recently developed by BASF and Philips for use in automobile roofs, the new skylight module allows clear views until illuminated—at which time it emits a homogeneous plane of light. The OLED panel is also a highly energy-efficient light source that occupies less than 2 millimeters in thickness.

According to Dr. Felix Görth, head of Organic Light-Emitting Diodes and Organic Photovoltaics at BASF Future Business GmbH, “This combination allows the driver to enjoy a unique open-space feeling while it generates electricity during the day and pleasantly suffuses the interior with the warm light of the transparent, highly efficient OLEDs at night.”

If this venture is successful, architectural applications are bound to follow. Low energy illuminating skylights, windows and doors will be highly practical in some applications, especially given OLEDs’ potential long life.



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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.