Energy-Saving Windows Dilate Like Blood Vessels To Keep Rooms Cool

Energy-Saving Windows Dilate Like Blood Vessels To Keep Rooms Cool

Researchers at Harvard developed a circulatory system embedded in glass windows to keep them cool.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 5 august 2013

Beneath our skin is a network of tiny blood vessels that dilate to let blood flow when we’re feeling hot. The circulation of blood allows the heat to pass through our skin and cool us off. This type of ingenious cooling system is what researchers over at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) are trying to replicate with glass windows.

The team of researchers developed a microfluidic circulatory system that is embedded in glass windows. Low temperature water is pumped through very thin channels to help control the heat transfer that occurs when the temperature outside the building is high.

Normally glass windows heat up when it’s hot outside and this heats up the air inside the building. This means added effort for the air conditioning system of the building to keep the temperature at a comfortably cool level.

The researchers see the new window cooling system as a way to save energy and cut down on costs. According to the team’s report on Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, this microfluidic circulatory system can also be applied to rooftop solar panels to help them generate energy more efficiently.


The team was led by Joanna Aizenberg, a professor of materials science at Harvard SEAS, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. The idea for the system stemmed from the microfluidics studies of Don Ingber, professor of bioengineering at Harvard SEAS and founding director of the Wyss Institute.

Microfluidics devices used in lab research and clinical diagnoses are typically small, but Ingber’s team was able to create large-scale ones by using a vinyl cutter to create a plastic mold and then pouring liquid silicone rubber into the mold. This method resulted to a thin sheet of clear silicone rubber with tiny troughs. This sheet of rubber was stretched on a glass pane to create sealed channels where water could be pumped through.

Aizenberg’s team and Ingber’s team also worked with applied mathematician Matthew Hancock, who developed a mathematical model to help predict how much energy the microfluidic circulatory system can save if installed on actual windows.

The next step for the researchers is to partner with an architecture research team to further study how the system can help save on energy when it is applied to an entire building.


Images via Wyss Institute


Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile august 26, 2016

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture august 26, 2016

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Building Tomorrow

See All
Design august 26, 2016

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion august 26, 2016

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times


Robleh Jama

Mobile Experience Designer

Syndicated august 26, 2016

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability august 26, 2016

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising august 26, 2016

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising august 26, 2016

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work august 26, 2016

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Design august 26, 2016

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia august 26, 2016

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising august 26, 2016

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.