Electrochromism is a reversible colour change triggered by an applied voltage. The ‘Puzzle of Electrochromism’ is a demonstrator project that explains electrochromism, making it understandable and approachable for designers to use in their product design. The aim is to change their mindset regarding materials’ possibilities for their designs. Electrochromic (EC) materials are those that exhibit a reversible colour change triggered by voltage. Controlled colour change, low voltage operation, and the memory effect are the three unique material properties defining electrochromic materials. As these effects are the result of an electron transfer or redox reaction, once the applied potential is removed the material remains in its current state; i.e. the memory effect. Currently, electrochromic materials are primarily implemented in glass products, i.e., smart glass or smart windows. Thus its potential for design needs to be explored. We used the ‘Material Driven Design Method’, to study these materials, which led to our product demonstrator project: the ‘Puzzle of Electrochromism’.
The ‘Puzzle of Electrochromism’ is literally and figuratively a puzzle about electrochromic materials: something that is often difficult to understand or explain, as well as a game (product demonstrator).
If a piece of this puzzle is connected to the framework, a closed-loop circuit is created between the voltage source and the coin cell battery, thus the puzzle piece will change its colour. When the polarity is reversed, it immediately switches from its primary EC layer to its secondary EC layer or vice versa.
All primary EC layers then create the first puzzle and all secondary EC layers the second. Thus, the ‘Puzzle of Electrochromism’ includes two different elements. Moreover, each puzzle piece represents a different stacking sequence of an electrochromic device; a structure of thin layers that enable electrochromic materials to change colour.
The project challenges and encourages designers to use electrochromism in their product designs.
The project’s aim is to design a product demonstrator that fully utilizes the technical and experiential characterization of electrochromic materials, as well as highlighting its unique properties; e.g. controlled colour change, low voltage operation, and the memory effect.
The main function of the demonstrator is to emphasize the simplicity and possibilities of integrating electrochromic materials in product designs. The ultimate goal is to inspire designers to make use of electrochromic materials in their (product) designs by triggering their creativity and curiosity.