Vanadium dioxide is a key material for thermochromic smart windows that can respond to environmental temperature and modulate near infrared irradiation by changing from a transparent state at low temperature to a more reflective state at high temperature, while maintaining visible transmittance. VO2 thermochromism is commonly used in films on glass that function as smart windows. Flexible VO2 nanocomposite foils are able to combine the intrinsic properties of VO2 nanoparticles with the added functionalities contributed by nanoscale and interface effects, such as increased visible transparency and infrared modulation ability. These foils are promising for applications in construction and automotive glasses to increase energy efficiency. However, VO2 nanoparticles may be unstable, and they are difficult to prepare in stable dispersive suspensions. In this paper, we report a novel all-solution process that can be used to prepare transparent, stable and flexible VO2-based composite films. These films exhibit UV-shielding properties and an excellent temperature-responsive thermochromism in the near infrared region. A typical film has a solar modulation efficiency of 13.6%, which is the highest value for VO2 thermochromic films with comparable visible transmittance. Coating the VO2 nanoparticles with a thin SiO2 shell significantly improved their anti-oxidation and anti-acid abilities. This result represents an important breakthrough in VO2 thermochromism, and it may have applications for near infrared modulation of glass used in construction or cars.
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