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Bio-inspired Transparent Microfluidic Platform as Transformable Networks for Solar Modulation

Alston, Mark E.; Pottgiesser, Uta; Knaack, Ulrich

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Assistant Professor in Environmental Design

Uta Pottgiesser

Ulrich Knaack


The glazed envelopes on buildings play a major role in operational energy consumption as they define the boundary conditions between climate and thermal comfort. Such a façade is viewed as an uncontrolled load that sets the operational performance requirements for artificial lighting and air-cooling mechanical systems. This is in contrast to nature, which has evolved materials with the ability to learn and adapt to a micro-environment through self-regulation using materials that are multifunctional, formed by chemical composition in response to solar load. Leaf vasculature formations are of particular interest to this paper. Through leaf maximisation of daylight capture, the total leaf area density and angular distribution of leaf surfaces define the tree structure. This paper will define an approach to simulate nature to advance a microfluidic platform as a dynamic NIR absorber for solar modulation: a transformable network of multi-microchannel geometry matrix structures for autonomous transparent surfaces, for real time flow management of conductivity. This is realised through active volumetric flows within a capillary network of circulation fluidics within it, through it, and out of it for energy capture and storage, the cycle of which is determined through precise management of heat flow transport within a material. This advances transparent façades into an energy system for heat load modulation nested to climate and solar exposure, which is demonstrated in this paper.


Alston, M. E., Pottgiesser, U., & Knaack, U. (2019). Bio-inspired Transparent Microfluidic Platform as Transformable Networks for Solar Modulation. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 7(1), 89-100.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 15, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 9, 2019
Publication Date Jan 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 9, 2019
Journal Journal of Facade Design and Engineering
Print ISSN 2213-302X
Electronic ISSN 2213-3038
Publisher IOS Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 1
Pages 89-100
Keywords microfluidic; thermal transport; absorber; solar; geometry matrix; bio-inspired
Public URL
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