Windows that make you feel happier and healthier? Working in an office might just become a more pleasurable experience if the research geeks at the German Fraunhofer institute have their way, cooking up panes with a special coating that specifically allows through wavelengths known to have a positive impact on the body's hormonal balance. The end result, it's claimed, is a sheet that "makes you feel as if the window is permanently open" researcher Walther Glaubitt says.
Traditional treated glass uses anti-reflective coatings for aesthetic purposes, the researchers point out, preventing reflections and allowing through the maximum amount of light to avoid needing so much artificial illumination. However, the human eye is particularly sensitive to blue light, and so the Fraunhofer tech focuses on allowing that through.
"Our biorhythms are not affected by the wavelengths that brighten a room the most, but rather by blue light," engineer Glaubitt says. The coating they've given is an inorganic later, 0.1 micrometers thick, that exhibits maximum transmission at wavelengths between 450 and 500 nanometers, where the effects of blue light are at their strongest.
Shortages in blue light can lead to SAD (seasonal effectiveness disorder), issues with sleeping due to excess melatonin production, depression and other problems. Traditional methods to combat this include blue-LED "energy lights" such as the Philips model we reviewed last year.
UNIGLASS and Centrosolar Glas are planning to bring the specially-treated glass to market as "VITAL feel-good glass" in triple-glazed units, which would usually make the room feel no darker but which would prevent more blue light from making it through. In fact, while regular triple-glazing allows through 66-percent of light at the 460 nanometer wavelength - the blue area - the VITAL glazing will allow through 79-percent.
Future versions, however, will extend the coating to the outer-sides of the glass sheets, further improving transmission. In fact, it's expected that UNIGLASS can achieve 95-percent transmission eventually.