Research Highlights

Nanotubes to enable 'smart windows'

Published online 8 May 2013

George Moon


Lightweight carbon nanotubes have many potential applications thanks to their mechanical strength and nanoscale dimensions. It can be found in a range of applications, from bulletproof armour to experimental television screens.

Now, researchers from the United States and Saudi Arabia have created a device of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) that could be used to make 'smart windows', turning the windows of buildings and cars into places to display information and mutlimedia, publishing their findings in Nature Photonics1.

Putting a thin film of SWCNT in contact with a layer of ionic liquid creates an electric charge and forms a high density of holes. This allowed the team to control the film's transparency to infrared and visible light, and might enable the display of information.

The high density of holes gives the SWNT a chemical potential that, in turn, creates a wide range of transparencies. This ability, say the researchers, makes the material ideal for use in 'smart windows'.


  1. Wang, F. et al. Charge-compensated, semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotube thin film as an electrically configurable optical medium. Nature Photonics  doi:10.1038/nphoton.2013.66 (2013)