Responsive Hydrogels

Hydrogels can be infused in curtainwall panels. The hydrogels can turn opaque or transparent depending on temperature.

Scientists at Deakin University experimented with the façade integration of hydrogels composed of alginate, polyethylene glycol-methacrylate and Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)(abbreviatedto PNIPAM).

Benefits and Drawbacks


Hydrogels have low-energy consumption and are thermally responsive. Incorporating graphene oxide – a material that converts light to heat – into the hydrogel system,enables the hydrogel to use heat to transform from clear to opaque. When hydrogels are embedded within façade glass, they can partially evaporate or expand depending on the temperature and can therefore regulate the humidity and temperature of building interiors.

One of the potential applications of a 3D printed bio-structural hydrogel are shading systems with passive thermotropic properties. These shading systems have enhanced environmental responsiveness.


Commercial Readiness


The materials used to make thermally responsive hydrogel systems are widely commercially available. However, the integrated hydrogel façade systems are not mass produced or sold by any commercial manufacturer. Hydrogels have been widely used for biotechnology and medical purposes, and are only recently being explored for architectural purposes.


Hydrogels Flanked by Perforated Glass
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