Anyone who has a rear-view mirror that automatically dims blue in reaction to annoying high-beam headlights glaring from behind has seen an electrochromic film in action.
Now, chemists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new method to more safely and, by extension, easily produce these shear films, which change their color with the help of a tiny electric current. This could make them available to many industries that have not been able to feasibly use them before.
In manufacturing, electrochromic films are often coated onto other materials, such as the surface of a mirror, as inks. They are usually based in solvents that are flammable and have toxic fumes, making them unsuitable for many work settings that rely on printing and spraying machinery to apply colors.
Georgia Tech researchers have developed electrochromic film inks that are water-based, making them safer for diffuse application in settings where the kinds of safety precautions and protective equipment that are standard in handling volatile organic chemicals would be impractical.