Piezoelectricity Leading Charge of Smart Materials Market

Smart materials seemed like the stuff of science fiction for a long time, but in the 21st century, the technology is well and truly ready to revolutionize the way we live. From floors that generate electricity to apparel fibers that track your health and fitness and from fingerprint scanners to windows that can air-condition rooms, smart materials have come a long way in a relatively short time.

The inexorable march of the smart materials market has been aided as much by the advent of the smart homes concept as by the steadily growing acknowledgment of the environmental degradation that has resulted from human activities. Efforts to reverse the damage have been quick to catch on in the developed world, especially when the campaign is led by technology that is – not to get too technical – cool!

Browse Market Research Report of Smart Materials Market:

Here’s a primer on two of the most important smart material technologies in today’s world:

A Walk a Day Keeps Powercuts Away

Piezoelectricity may sound like a fancy word, but the phenomenon has a very practical application in the modern world. The phenomenon is observed in certain materials that generate an electric charge when pressure is applied to them. If you don’t understand how that works, you’re not alone. The mechanism of the generation of piezoelectricity is still not entirely understood. However, this has not stopped scientists from applying the mysterious effect to a common problem of day-to-day life: generating excess electrical energy.

Piezoelectric flooring, which can generate electricity through the simple action of being walked upon, is being used in public places in many developed countries. Tokyo’s subway system uses piezoelectric flooring to generate electricity from the heavy passenger traffic, and town centers and plazas in some European cities have incorporated piezoelectric tiles to generate electricity from the heavy pedestrian traffic. Major nightclubs in North America and Europe are also thinking of incorporating piezoelectric flooring on dance floors to generate electricity. Though using piezoelectric flooring in residential construction may be a tad expensive right now, its application in public places has well and truly taken off.

The importance of piezoelectricity in the smart materials market is borne out by data released by leading market research firms. According to U.S.-based market intelligence firm Transparency Market Research, piezoelectric smart materials are both the largest and fastest developing category of the overall smart materials market.

Windows: Thermostats of the Future

Windows that limit the amount of light and heat coming into the room are already in use in both the developed and the developing world. However, since they use mechanical barriers to limit the amount of sunlight, such as tinting or double-paned glasses, they block both visible light and infrared light, the latter of which is responsible for the ‘warmth’ of sunlight. Thus, they can’t be made bright but cold, or dark but warm. They are also quite slow to have a tangible effect on the temperature.

New research into smart windows has thrown up an invention that could solve this issue. The new design consists of windows covered with a nanocoating that allows the passage of light and heat selectively, according to the amount of voltage applied to it. This allows the windows to effectively act as air-conditioning systems. Since nanocoatings can be applied on a single pane of glass, smart windows are also lighter than double-paned windows, which would help balance out the production costs. 

Such advances in the pipeline of smart materials are expected to help the global smart materials market exhibit a strong CAGR of 12.5% from 2014 to 2020.


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