Why do we need dynamic glass?

Humans need natural daylight - it is a fundamental part of our biology. Exposure to natural light has a whole host of health benefits, from promoting better sleep to improving our moods. Daylight supports the regulation of Vitamin D, serotonin, and melatonin in our bodies and promotes healthy eye development [1].

Yet many of us now spend the majority of our days indoors, moving between our homes and workplaces. Modern architectural design has already begun to recognize the importance of letting natural light back into our lives, using glass in new and exciting ways. Large, often floor-to-ceiling windows help to bring a feeling of the outside in.

However, while this helps to create light-filled buildings, it can also increase building temperatures and personal discomfort for those sitting in direct sunlight. In particular, within office environments, the need to reduce glare on screens, control room temperatures, or create private meeting spaces, often means we’re still using blinds and partitions to shut ourselves away from the outdoors and natural light.

Increased temperatures also create more demand for air conditioning, while the use of window blinds means relying on additional artificial light. All of this can considerably increase a building’s energy usage and environmental footprint.

Yet the business benefits of exposure to natural light are clear. It’s been shown that office workers who sit near windows sleep on average for 46 minutes longer than those who don’t [2]. While workplaces with good levels of natural light benefit from productivity gains between 3% and 40% [1].

This poses the question - how do we balance our human need for natural light with the practical and environmental considerations of modern building design?


  • 3-40%

    productivity gains are a benefit of workplaces with good levels of natural light [1]

  • 90%

    is the amount of time we spend indoors [3]

  • 1 sec

    is how fast liquid crystal glazing can provide shading or privacy screening

Dynamic glass using liquid crystals - new potential in existing tech

You’re probably already familiar with liquid crystals. They are now used in everything from cell phones and televisions to microwave ovens and alarm clocks - and are best known for their uses in display screens (LCDs).

Yet liquid crystals have far wider applications. We’ve been working with them for over 100 years, almost since their first discovery in 1888, and our latest solutions have the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work.

“We’ve taken the technology from LCDs and made it more durable and more robust so that we can use it in applications like dynamic glazing,” says Dr. Michael Grund, Head of Business for our eyrise® liquid crystal glazing team [8].

The team, based in Veldhoven in The Netherlands, has developed dynamic switchable glass which adapts to light conditions, creating instant shading and temperature regulation to maintain a comfortable environment, while preserving natural light and outside views.

They’ve also developed privacy glass which can be used to create adaptive screening, allowing open, light-filled offices and homes to adapt to the inhabitants’ needs for private spaces without losing natural daylight.

This technology has set unprecedented standards for the use of dynamic glass in architecture. Not only does it allow architects to create buildings that promote well-being through natural lighting and outdoor views. It also gives them an important tool in accomplishing their creative vision by offering a whole range of shapes, sizes, and colors.

How does liquid crystal glazing work?

Our solar shading glass contains a transparent liquid crystal mixture with specific dye molecules. This mixture is placed between two glass sheets coated with a transparent conductive film. At the flick of a switch, prompted by a low voltage, the liquid crystals change their orientation instantly to regulate the amount of light and heat passing through the glass. The glass always remains transparent, so even in a darkened state, natural light is preserved, and the outside view is retained.

Our switchable privacy glassworks similarly, this time using cholesteric liquid crystal mixtures placed between glass sheets. These respond to a low voltage to turn a transparent glass panel into one that is strongly light scattering, creating an opalescent effect.

What’s next for liquid crystal glazing research?

The first large commercial architectural projects using eyrise® Dynamic Liquid Crystal Glazing have been realized in the last years. These include the Niemeyer Sphere located at the headquarters of the crane manufacturer Kirow in Leipzig, Germany, one of the last works of renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

In addition, the FC Group’s new headquarters building in Karlsruhe, Germany has become the first building to use eyrise® liquid crystal glazing across its whole façade [5]. And our technology is also installed in two restored Victorian roof lights at the London headquarters of the British Film Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) [6] – as well as at the German Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai [7].
But the use of liquid crystals in dynamic glass also opens up exciting technological possibilities for the future.

“Eyrise® is changing the way people interact with the spaces they live and work in,” says Grund.

“As displays gain more and more space, and as the interfaces between people and information continue to develop, we can envision a future where windows are not just for letting in light, or creating privacy, but have information and content displayed on them too.”

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