Original transparency a few minutes

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A glass that darkens when exposed to light but regains its original transparency a few minutes after light is removed; the rate of clearing increases with temperature.

Photosensitive glass that is chemical treated to become dark upon exposure to ultraviolet light and regains full transparency when the UV rays are removed. When exposed to sunlight, dark spots form in photo chromic glasses which impede the sun's rays. Formation of these dark spot results from a rearrangement of the oxides within the glass. See this video:

What is a glass?

Glass is an amorphous solid that has been around in various forms for thousands of years and has been manufactured for human use since 12,000 BCE. The status of glass as a liquid versus a solid has been hotly debated. The short story is that glass is a super cooled liquid, meaning that it is rigid and static but does not change molecularly between melting and solidification into a desired shape. Glass is one the most versatile substances on Earth, used in many applications and in a wide variety of forms, from plain clears glass to tempered and tinted varieties, and so forth.

What is photo chromic glass?

Traditional photo chromic eyeglasses are generally alkali boroalumino silicates with 0.01 to 0.1 percent silver halide and a small amount of copper. Upon absorption of light, the silver ion reduces to metallic silver, which nucleates to form colloids about 120 angstroms in size.

This is small enough to keep the glass transparent, but the colloids are dense enough to make the glass look gray or brown. In photo chromic eyeglasses, darkening is reversed either by the removal of light (optical bleaching) or by raising the temperature (thermal bleaching)

How can my glasses change from transparent, when I'm inside, to dark when I go outdoors?

Sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses that darken when exposed to the sun were first developed by Corning in the late 1960s and popularized by Transitions in the 1990s. In fact, because of the extreme popularity of the Transitions brand, these lenses are usually referred to as transition lenses. The correct term for these glasses is photo chromic or photo chromatic, which refers to a specific chemical reaction the lenses have to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Photo chromic lenses have millions of molecules of substances such as silver chloride or silver halide embedded in them. The molecules are transparent to visible light in the absence of UV light, which is normal for artificial lighting. But when exposed to UV rays, as in direct sunlight, the molecules undergo a chemical process that causes them to change shape. The new molecular structure absorbs portions of the visible light, causing the lenses to darken. The number of molecules that change shape varies with the intensity of the UV rays.

When you go indoors and out of the UV light, a different chemical reaction takes place. The absence of the UV radiation causes the molecules to "snap back" to their original shape, resulting in the loss of their light absorbing properties. In both directions, the entire process happens very rapidly.

In the original Photo Brown and Photo Rey products made by Corning, the lenses are made of glass, and the molecules are distributed evenly throughout the entire lens. The problem with this method was apparent in prescription glasses where different parts of the lens were of varying thickness. The thicker parts would appear darker than the thinner areas. But with the increasing popularity of plastic lenses, a new method has been developed. By immersing the lenses in a chemical bath, the photo chromatic molecules are actually absorbed to a depth of about 150 microns into the plastic. This is much better than a simple coating, which would only be about 5 microns thick and would not provide enough molecules to make the lenses sufficiently dark. This plastic lens absorption process has been popularized by Transitions, the leading manufacturer of photo chromic lenses.

An important note about photo chromic lenses: because they react to UV light and not to visible light, there are circumstances under which the darkening will not occur. A perfect example of this is in your car. Because the windshield blocks out most UV light, photo chromic lenses will not darken. For this reason, most sunglasses with photo chromic lenses also have a certain amount of tint already applied to them.

Chemistry behind it:

Many people who wear eye glasses prefer those made with photo chromic lenses or glass lenses which darken when exposed to bright light. These eyeglasses eliminate the need for sunglasses as they can reduce up to 80% of transmitted light. The basis of this change in color in response to light can be explained in terms of oxidation-reduction reactions. Glass consists of a complex matrix of silicates which is ordinarily transparent to visible light. In photo chromic lenses, silver chloride (AgCl) and copper (I) chloride (CuCl) crystals are added during the manufacturing of the glass while it is in the molten state and these crystals become uniformly embedded in the glass as it solidifies. One characteristic of silver chloride is its susceptibility to oxidation and reduction by light as described below.

Cl- -----------> Cl + e-


Ag+ + e- -----------> Ag


The chloride ions are oxidized to produce chlorine atoms and an electron. The electron is then transferred to silver ions to produce silver atoms. These atoms cluster together and block the transmittance of light, causing the lenses to darken. This process occurs almost instantaneously. As the degree of "darkening" is dependent on the intensity of the light, these photo chromic lenses are quite convenient and all but eliminate the need for an extra pair of sunglasses.

The photo chromic process would not be useful unless it were reversible. The presence of copper (I) chloride reverses the darkening process in the following way. When the lenses are removed from light, the following reactions occur:

Cl + Cu+ ------> Cu+2 + Cl-

Oxidizing agent reducing agent oxidized species reduced species

The chlorine atoms formed by the exposure to light are reduced by the copper ions, preventing their escape as gaseous atoms from the matrix. The copper (+1) ion is oxidized to produce copper (+2) ions, which then reacts with the silver atoms as shown.

Cu+2 + Ag ------> Cu+1 + Ag+

Oxidizing agent reducing agent reduced species oxidized species

The net effect of these reactions is that the lenses become transparent again as the silver and chloride atoms are converted to their original oxidized and reduced states.

Photo chromic glass lenses

A specific mode of action: Silver atoms The photo chromic mechanism that takes place in a glass photo chromic lens isvery different from what happens with plastic.

The light-reactive properties of silver atoms have long been known. Photography is a key example, but in this field, the process is not reversible.

Photo chromic glass lenses, on the other hand, where the reaction is mediated by atoms of silver in the matrix of a specially constituted vitreous environment, are capable of continuous and reversible change between the clear and darkened states. The number of atoms present, and their distribution within the lens, will directly influencetransmissionlevels and lens color. Additionally, the basic composition of the lens determines the rate of change through the darkening-clearing cycle.

The basic principles governing this change of state in the atoms of silver are schematically represented in our animation. Influenced by UV-A or short-wave visible spectrum radiation, an atom is able to modify its external electronic structure by deployment of the electrons present in the vitreous structure. When such radiation is no longer present, the system returns to its original state.

Stable and durable

Laboratory tests involving several tens of thousands of darkening-clearing cycles, corresponding to long years - or even decades - of normal use, have revealed no significant fatigue in this phenomenon. Indeed, it shows remarkable reversibility under natural lighting conditions.

This, added to the natural transparency of glass and the in-mass presence of the photo chromic agent, explains how stable glass photo chromic lenses can be in the long run.

A complex process

Optimum precision in product manufacturing is required to regulate photo chromic performance, especially during the critical stage ofannealing. After melting and pressing, the carrying of a lens through an annealing Lahr (at temperatures up to 700°C depending on the nature and softening point* of the glass) is a commonly used internal stress-reduction process. But when it comes to photo chromic glass, annealing is also the way to activate thesilver-halidecrystals, and its temperature has to be regulated with a precision of 1°C, taking into account the size and number of crystals, the glass composition and volume, and the photo chromic characteristics - avery complex process which Corning pioneered in the mid 1960s and never stopped improving since then.

The Need for Photo chromic glass:

A discussion of photo chromic begins with the discussion of the human eye and how it adapts to light. When eye encounters light, it does three things with it Changes its speed Changes its direction. Changes the amount entering the eye Potential

Problems Light Causes:

The Light outdoors is 25 times more power than indoor light Bright light & glare can be a problem causing fatigue, headaches and eyestrain Night vision may be affected if filters are not worn during the daytime .UV poses a threat to the long‐term health of the eye. The solution the way to alleviate these concerns is to regulate light levels Control glare protecting the eye from harmful UVR.


  • Use photo chromic lenses to recreate natural vision.
  • It makes vision sharper, clearer, bolder and more comfortable photo chromic lenses do all of this without any kind of medication for the patient

Q: How Photo chromic Lenses Change UV is a high energy light invisible to the eye?

Answer: When a photo chromic molecule is exposed to UV light, a chemical bond in the photo chromic molecule is broken Molecule rearranges & reduces visible light Thermal energy (heat) drives the photo chromic molecules back to their clear state.

Factors That Affect Photo chromic Performance

  • Two main factors ‐ UVR and temperature
  • Photo chromic lenses do not perform in an “on” or “off” manner
  • Geographical location
  • The time of year,
  • The time of day and the orientation of the lens to sunlight


TWO-FOR-ONE EYEGLASS LENSES that darken when exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun and return to their clear state indoors have come a long way since they were first invented in the 1960s. Early versions of these so-called photo chromic lenses were plagued by slow darkening or lightening, and sometimes the lenses would get stuck midway. Newer models of the changeling spectacles are much quicker to activate and fade, and they come in both glass and lightweight plastic.

The first photo chromic lenses were made of glass and developed by scientists in the U.S. at Corning. The company has made improvements to its original process over the years, but in general, the science remains the same, says Lionel M. Tanguy, a glass application engineer at Corning Ophthalmic, in France.

Glass photo chromic lenses contain silver halide crystals embedded in a glass substrate. In the presence of UV-A light (wavelengths of 320-400 nm), electrons from the glass combine with the colorless silver cautions to form elemental silver. Because elemental silver is visible, the lenses appear darker. Back in the shade, this reaction is reversed. The silver returns to its original ionic state, and the lenses become clear. Although these lenses are still manufactured, the market for glass has dwindled since the commercialization of plastic photo chromic lenses in the 1990s.



Photo chromic Windows

Still in the development stage, photo chromic windows respond to changes in light, much like sunglasses that darken when you move from a dim light to a bright one

While this type of technology may seem like a good idea, it has its drawbacks for saving energy. Photo chromic windows work well to reduce glare from the sun, but they don't control heat gain. That's because the amount of light that strikes a window doesn't necessarily correspond to the amount of solar heat it absorbs. Because the sun is lower in the sky during the winter months, for example, its rays may strike a window more intensely in the cold season than in the summer, when the sun is higher in the sky. In this case, a photo chromic window would darken more in the winter than in the summer, although winter is the time when solar heat would be beneficial.

Another problem is that, while this technology works fine on small, eyeglass-sized pieces of glass, it has yet do be done successfully on a large-scale, commercial level for window-sized pieces.

Despite some problems, "smart windows" hold the promise of reducing energy demand and cutting air conditioning and heating loads in the future. They offer the next major step in windows that are increasingly sophisticated and energy efficient.

Electro chromic Windows

Flip a switch and an electro chromic window can change from clear to fully darkened or any level of tint in-between.

Electro chromic window in Boeing 787:

The technology has been suggested for cars, where with a touch of a switch the driver can tint the mirror or sunroof. In buildings, the changeable windows allow for privacy, to cut down glare, and to ward off increases in solar heat.

The action of an electric field signals the change in the window's optical and thermal properties. Once the field is reversed, the process is also reversed. The windows operate on a very low voltage -- one to three volts -- and only use energy to change their condition, not to maintain any particular state.

To make an electro chromic window, a thin, multi-layer assembly is sandwiched between traditional pieces of glass. The two outside layers of the assembly are transparent electronic conductors. Next is a counter-electrode layer and an electro chromic layer, with an ion conductor layer in-between. When a low voltage is applied across the conductors, moving ions from the counter-electrode to the electro chromic layer cause the assembly to change color. Reversing the voltage moves ions from the electro chromic layer back to the counter-electrode layer, restoring the device to its previous clear state. The glass may be programmed to absorb only part of the light spectrum, such as solar infrared.

Early research indicates that the technology can save substantial amounts of energy in buildings, and electro chromic glazings may eventually replace traditional solar control technology such as tints, reflective films and shading devices.

Photo chromic

lenses change in color and light transmission when exposed to different light intensities. The rate of darkening depends on the ambient temperature. These lenses do not become as dark when driving because the car's windshield absorbs some of the ultraviolet light that causes the lenses to darken. Photo chromic lenses are now available in plastic as well as glass, and they may be either brown or gray in color.


  • Absorb the sun not reflect it!
  • Will greatly reduce global warming!
  • Protect your interior furnishings against the sun with 100% UV blockage!
  • Greatly reduce fossil fuel energy consumption from Air Conditioning!
  • No electric needed to power Photo chromic Windows, all you need is sunlight!
  • Watch your big screen TV's and monitors with ease day and night!
  • Consumers will actually see the windows working nonstop to greatly reduce there
  • Expensive energy bills!
  • Watch your Photo chromic Windows darken automatically with the sun and lighten at dusk!
  • Photo chromic Windows will lighten and darken forever without fatigue!
  • Photo chromic glass reacts only to sunlight. In the winter the Earth may be closest to
  • the Sun but because of the tilt of the Earth, the Northern Hemisphere has less direct
  • Sunlight than the Southern Hemisphere. Thus, in the winter when the Sun is out,
  • Photo chromic Windows in the Northern Hemisphere will only darken slightly compared to
  • Photo chromic Windows in the direct sunlight of the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Spring, summer, fall, or winter watch them adjust perfectly right before your eyes!