Smart glass is a new type of glass with a low thermal emissivity (low-e) coating, which is a layer of thin film deposited onto normal glass at a high temperature.
The low-e coating can block the heat that would otherwise be transferred through the glass, thus providing improved temperature regulation when compared to normal glass and plastic.
As a result, it requires much less energy to maintain optimal growth conditions within a greenhouse.
The aim of the research project is to assess the impact of smart glass versus current hazed glass on plant growth, physiology, crop yield and quality in a controlled CO2, temperature, nutrient and irrigation environment.
Dr Sachin Chavan of the Western Sydney University talks about the results so far:
"The smart glass project is in its initial phase but we have finished our first experiment using eggplants.
"The eggplants were grown in four glasshouse rooms; two with smart glass film applied to the hazed glass panels and two with the original hazed glass only.
"We measured and compared various growth, physiology, productivity and quality parameters.
"Preliminary findings show that smart glass can reduce the energy costs in the glasshouse, but it has also affected the productivity of the crops.
"Meanwhile, the quality parameters tested showed no significant impact from the smart glass on eggplant fruit quality."