TNO Small Business Research

This research is based on the TNO Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). With this program TNO challenges entrepreneurs to exploit 20 different research ideas and develop them into products.  

The SBIR programme consists of two phases:
1. The feasibility study around a product idea
2. The R&D period of developing the product idea to product

UNStudio was selected for one of the ideas: “Window and curtain in one”:
TNO had developed and applied a coating on glass wherein a thin layer of special rubber is processed. This coating and also the rubber are transparent and allow light to pass through until electric power is applied. This current causes ripples in the rubber, making it translucent. In combination with glass this switchable film could for example be used to create both privacy (translucent glass) and openness (transparent glass) in the glass.

For the research we teamed up with Renolit, a.g LICHT and researchers from TNO. The RENOLIT Group is an international leader in the manufacturing of high-quality functional plastic films and related products for technical applications. a.g LICHT joined the team to examine the potential alternative media applications.

The technology is potentially cheaper than existing systems for switchable glass based on liquid crystal or electro chromic systems. The fact that the product is mono-functional (on/off effect) and systems with the same functionality are already available on the market is evaluated critically by the project team. A significant competitive advantage could be created if the product can be integrated into a multi-functional application. In the field of transparent OLED and solar cells a variety of developments are currently taking place which makes a combination with these products feasible in the near future. Mainly these developments made it very attractive for the project team to bring the technology of TNO to an end product.

In the feasibility phase UNStudio was responsible for the planning and coordination. UNStudio organised and prepared several workshops with the other project partners and finally produced a report of the feasibility phase and a R&D report as application for the next phase.


Posted by: UNStudio / Thomas Harms

Team: Thomas Harms, Maud van Hees, Filippo Lodi
TNO, Renolit, a.g. LICHT