Editorial Feature

The Use of Thin Films in Architectural Glazing

Architectural glazing has the benefit of improving thermally efficiency. This article discusses the importance, deposition techniques, and commercial applications of thin films in the field of architectural glazing.

Image Credit: Unconventional/Shutterstock.com

What are Thin Films?

Technological advancements in photonic, optoelectronic, and magnetic devices depend heavily on thin film materials. Research into thin films is primarily based on phenomena specific to the film's geometry, thickness, and structure. Thin films made from newly developed materials can be easily integrated into a wide range of devices.

Although thin films are delicate, they are relatively stiff and thermally stable. The most convenient method to analyze the mechanical properties of thin films is nano-indentation. However, some other methods like the micro beam cantilever deflection technique and tensile testing can also be used to analyze freestanding thin film mechanical properties. The semiconductor properties of thin films can be analyzed by different optical experiments.

For instance, the band gap of a thin film material can be determined by measuring the absorption coefficient at various energies. Some major applications of thin films include semiconductor devices, solar cells, photoconductors, telecommunications, wireless communications, transistors, integrated circuits, rectifiers, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), light-crystal displays (LCDs), lithography, and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).

Deposition Techniques of Thin Films for Architectural Glazing

Thin films are used to cover the inside surface of windows. They can be applied as a single layer or as many layers of metal or semiconductor material. Their thicknesses can range from nanometers to micrometers.

Thin films are created using a deposition technique, which is a controlled synthesis of the material that entails applying a thin layer to a surface. A house mirror is prepared by applying a thin metal coating to the back of a sheet of glass to create a reflecting surface. The ability to control thickness to a few tenths of a nanometer is crucial for the creation of optical components like self-cleaning glass and coatings that are reflective and anti-reflective.

Commercial Applications of Thin Films in Architectural Glazing

Functional thin films open up a world of possibilities for modern glazing systems. According to an article published in the journal Surface & Coatings Technology, this can be accomplished by incorporating different capabilities such as self-cleaning or electricity production, or by reducing energy demand through the administration or activation of solar heat gain or blackbody radiation in window layouts using spectrally selective films.

Windows are an important component of architectural design since they constitute part of the structure's façade, define the interior space, and offer natural light. They also keep the elements at bay while lowering energy expenditures.

Thin-film coatings may be installed into existing structures to limit the quantity of solar radiation that enters the room. The films are generally thin layers of transparent, colored, or reflecting polyester; their primary purpose is to deflect the worst of the sun's heat and glare.

A recent study published in the journal Energy and Buildings states that the principal energy advantage of window films is that they reduce infrared solar heat gain; the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is the proportion of solar radiation admitted via a window, door, or skylight, either directly or indirectly, and then released as heat within a residence. Some coatings may cut solar heat gain by up to two-thirds.

AGC Group is a leading manufacturer of thin films based architectural glazing products. AGC glass's aesthetic, technical, and energy properties make its scope of applications practically unlimited, from external glazing to interior decoration and industrial uses.


New glazing technologies have the potential to enhance building comfort and performance while also adding value and lowering energy costs for building owners. They may also help with worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Films currently have high adhesion and are resilient to surface degradation; formerly, bubbles and surface damage rendered films less appealing than they are today. Quality control, manufacturing speed, and repeatability advancements have reduced the cost of this complex technology.

Spectrally selective glass may help to minimize energy consumption, limit solar gain, avoid heat loss, and reduce the need for electric lighting. Thin films might have a greater financial effect on residential structures, as well as hotels, where DIY installation techniques are 75% less costly than professional ones.

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References and Further Reading 

Khaled, K., & Berardi, U. (2021). Current and future coating technologies for architectural glazing applications. Energy and Buildings244, 111022. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2021.111022

Rao, M. C., & Shekhawat, M. S. (2013). A brief survey on basic properties of thin films for device application. In International Journal of Modern Physics: Conference Series (Vol. 22, pp. 576-582). World Scientific Publishing Company. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1142/S2010194513010696

Makhlouf, A. S. H. (2011). Current and advanced coating technologies for industrial applications. In Nanocoatings and ultra-thin films (pp. 3-23). Woodhead Publishing.

Wang, X. D., Li, W. G., Liao, J. F., & Kuang, D. B. (2019). Recent advances in halide perovskite single‐crystal thin films: fabrication methods and optoelectronic applications. Solar RRL3(4), 1800294. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/solr.201800294

Hebig, J. C., Kuhn, I., Flohre, J., & Kirchartz, T. (2016). Optoelectronic properties of (CH3NH3) 3Sb2I9 thin films for photovoltaic applications. ACS energy letters1(1), 309-314. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1021/acsenergylett.6b00170

Bollero, A., Grossberg, M., Asenjo, B., & Gutiérrez, M. (2009). CuS-based thin films for architectural glazing applications produced by co-evaporation: Morphology; optical and electrical properties. Surface and Coatings Technology. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.surfcoat.2009.08.037

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Ibtisam Abbasi

Written by

Ibtisam Abbasi

Ibtisam graduated from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. During his academic career, he has worked on several research projects and has successfully managed several co-curricular events such as the International World Space Week and the International Conference on Aerospace Engineering. Having won an English prose competition during his undergraduate degree, Ibtisam has always been keenly interested in research, writing, and editing. Soon after his graduation, he joined AzoNetwork as a freelancer to sharpen his skills. Ibtisam loves to travel, especially visiting the countryside. He has always been a sports fan and loves to watch tennis, soccer, and cricket. Born in Pakistan, Ibtisam one day hopes to travel all over the world.


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