Welcome to all the AshChromics and FADES Eyewear fans out there! The purpose of this blog is to educate our readers and customers on all things AshChromics related, from the latest advances in material science, to tips for your next hiking or biking excursion.For our first post, we’d like to discuss the history of electrochromic technology, as well as a more in-depth look at the specific electrochromic technology that makes FADES Eyewear work.
- Metal-oxide electrochromics are the oldest (>50 years) technology currently available. Currently only present in planes and building windows due to their high power draw, these electrochromics are slow, inefficient and not durable. Decades have been spent trying to improve the technology, but to no avail.
- LCD electrochromics use liquid crystals to change color, similar to an LCD television. They boast almost instant switching times, but offer relatively poor visibility, poor contrast and substandard reliability, as the lens can only switch so many times before it gives out.
- Conducting polymer based electrochromics are the newest technologies available, using various electricity-sensitive color-changing chemicals to achieve the color switch effect. They are also capable of creating any state of darkness in between the lightest and darkest setting. This set of technologies varies greatly, but currently offers the best overall performance.
FADES Eyewear uses the last category, conducting polymers, a field that has seen much advancement in the last two decades.
Conducting polymers themselves are polymers (long chains of repeating chemical units) that conduct electricity and exhibit various conductive properties. This by itself is not particularly notable, but some conducting polymers exhibit electrochromism, that is, they change color when exposed to an electric current. This is the phenomenon that drives electrochromic technology, and allows FADES Eyewear to switch between light and dark.
Ashwin-Ushas, the parent company of AshChromics, has been at the forefront of conducting polymers research in the last two decades, finding uses for conducting polymers from defense to aerospace. Of particular note was Ashwin-Ushas’s work on microsatellites, space satellites roughly the size of a birthday cake. Previously, satellites needed to be gargantuan to fit their large cooling and heating systems, without which the satellite would freeze/boil in the harsh climate of space. Ashwin-Ushas developed a conducting polymer based system which allowed satellites to be much better insulated, allowing for internal temperature regulation and negating the need for large cooling/heating systems. With this new technology, spaceflight has been made exponentially cheaper, paving the way for further NASA exploration and the new breed of spaceflight companies like SpaceX.
The electrochromic conducting polymers that power FADES Eyewear were developed from a much more down to earth project, a mandate from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop glasses for Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) patients. People who suffer from ARMD are extremely sensitive to light, making moving between indoors and outdoors difficult and even painful. Photochromics, the previously used auto-darkening technology, was simply not quick enough to be up to the task. Any product developed for ARMD patients needed to be quick and reliable, something other electrochromics had not proven to be either.Ultimately, Ashwin-Ushas and the team that would become AshChromics developed a novel combination of electrochromic conducting polymers, and achieved the requirements set forth by NIH, helping many ARMD patients in the process. The NIH was kind enough to let us keep the patent for commercialization of the technology, and so FADES Eyewear was born! Here at AshChromics, we aim to bring our 25+ years of expertise in developing technologies to the consumer world, and deliver well-made, useful products at affordable prices. We hope you enjoyed our first blog post and look forward to hearing from our readers!
- AshChromics Team