November 26, 2014

Stanford engineers invent high-tech mirror to beam heat away from buildings into space

Stanford engineers have invented a material designed to help cool buildings.
The material reflects incoming sunlight, and it sends heat from inside the structure
directly into space as infrared radiation (represented by reddish rays).

(November 26, 2014)  A new ultrathin multilayered material can cool buildings without air conditioning by radiating warmth from inside the buildings into space while also reflecting sunlight to reduce incoming heat.

Stanford engineers have invented a revolutionary coating material that can help cool buildings, even on sunny days, by radiating heat away from the buildings and sending it directly into space.

A team led by electrical engineering Professor Shanhui Fan and research associate Aaswath Raman reported this energy-saving breakthrough in the journal Nature.

The heart of the invention is an ultrathin, multilayered material that deals with light, both invisible and visible, in a new way.

Invisible light in the form of infrared radiation is one of the ways that all objects and living things throw off heat. When we stand in front of a closed oven without touching it, the heat we feel is infrared light. This invisible, heat-bearing light is what the Stanford invention shunts away from buildings and sends into space.

Of course, sunshine also warms buildings. The new material, in addition dealing with infrared light, is also a stunningly efficient mirror that reflects virtually all of the incoming sunlight that strikes it.

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