Radiative cooling is a technology that lowers the temperature of an object by absorbing less energy from the sun and emitting radiant heat. Conventional radiative cooling materials developed so far have been limited to transparent emitters, which transmit all light under direct sunlight and opaque radiative coolers that reflect all solar energy. For this, transparency is an important characteristic in practical applications of radiative cooling, but the transmitted sunlight trapped in an inner space is generally the main cause of the increasing temperature.
A research team led by Professor Junsuk Rho, Ph.D. candidate Minkyung Kim and Dr. Dasol Lee of POSTECH’s Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, and a team led by Professor Heon Lee and Soomin of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Korea University have together developed a transparent radiative cooler that transmits visible light while reflecting near-infrared light, and radiates heat in the atmospheric window where the wavelength range is between 8 and 13 micrometers (µm).
The joint research team focused on developing a transparent radiative cooler to solve this problem. Taking advantage of the characteristics of light, the researchers proposed a material that can transmit visible light, reflect near-infrared light and emit mid-infrared rays.
The radiative cooling material developed by the researchers in this study exhibits both transparency and radiative cooling effect by selectively reflecting near-infrared light. In an outdoor rooftop experiment, the researchers found that the interior temperature of the high-absorbing chamber in the cooler box was lowered by 14.4 °C and the temperature of the material itself was lowered by 10.1 °C even when paint was applied.
Focusing on the development, Professor Junsuk Rho of POSTECH, said, “The radiative cooler developed this time can be used as a window of a building or an observatory that needs to maintain transparency, or as a window in an amusement ride or a vehicle. It can even take on colour because it retains its cooling effect when paint is applied to it.”