Today’s advances in materials science and technology can lead to better buildings with improved energy efficiency and indoor conditions. Particular attention should be directed towards windows and glass facades—jointly known as “glazings”—since current practices often lead to huge energy expenditures related to excessive inflow or outflow of energy which need to be balanced by energy-intensive cooling or heating. This review article outlines recent progress in thermochromics, i.e., it deals with materials whose optical properties are strongly dependent on temperature. In particular, we discuss oxide-based thin surface coatings (thin films) and nanoparticle composites which can be deposited onto glass and are able to regulate the throughput of solar energy while the luminous (visible) properties remain more or less unaltered. Another implementation embodies lamination materials incorporating thermochromic (TC) nanoparticles. The thin films and nanocomposites are based on vanadium dioxide (VO2
), which is able to change its properties within a narrow temperature range in the vicinity of room temperature and either reflects or absorbs infrared light at elevated temperatures, whereas the reflectance or absorptance is much smaller at lower temperatures. The review outlines the state of the art for these thin films and nanocomposites with particular attention to recent developments that have taken place in laboratories worldwide. Specifically, we first set the scene by discussing environmental challenges and their relationship with TC glazings. Then enters VO2
and we present its key properties in thin-film form and as nanoparticles. The next part of the article gives perspectives on the manufacturing of these films and particles. We point out that the properties of pure VO2
may not be fully adequate for buildings and we elaborate how additives, antireflection layers, nanostructuring and protective over-coatings can be employed to yield improved performance and durability that make TC glazings of considerable interest for building-related applications. Finally, we briefly describe recent developments towards TC light scattering and draw some final conclusions.
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