No assignee for patent application serial number 403988 has been made.
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a method and device for detecting the presence and type of coating on the surfaces of transparent sheet material, and measuring the thickness of transparent sheet material using optical techniques without contacting the transparent sheet material.
"Transparent sheet materials include glass and plastics and are used for the manufacture of windows, photovoltaic solar panels, displays and a variety of other products. The clear sheet material is often modified by adding color to the raw material or by applying coatings to one or more surfaces of the sheet material. The sheet material is modified to change the material properties for a variety of reasons including architectural appearance, solar control properties, electrical properties, mechanical properties, photochromic properties, electrochromic properties, and others property changes. The final transparency of the sheet material after modification ranges from less than 10 percent to greater than 99 percent of visible light. Many coatings are applied to provide properties relating to wavelengths outside the visible spectrum such as low emissivity coatings which reflect large amounts of the infrared spectrum and thereby provide solar control properties.
"The thickness of and presence of coatings on the sheet material are measured at points during manufacture of the sheet material and during secondary fabrication of sheet material into end products such as windows, photovoltaic panels or displays. As the material is cut, coated, tempered, laminated, and fabricated in various other processes into windows or other final products, the manufacturer must determine thickness and the presence of coatings to assure proper assembly of the desired final product. Such measurements are often made by humans, are slow to measure, are difficult to perform accurately, and may involve physical contact of an instrument to the sheet material. Human measurement is slow and highly variable. Physical contact of an instrument to the sheet material may cause damage to the material or to coatings on the sheet material. Separate devices are typically required for thickness and coating determination, and more than one device may be required to determine the side of the sheet on which the coating is present.
"Of particular interest is the detection of various low emissivity (lowE) coatings broadly used on windows. LowE coatings control the solar spectrum by selectively reflecting the high heat-carrying portion of the infrared (IR) spectrum. Such coatings reflect the IR light back into the building in high latitude climates, and similarly reflect IR light away from the building in low latitude climates. There are a wide variety of coatings used in industry and many are very similar. These coatings have complex reflection profiles which are often non-monotonic. The complex reflection profile can be used to discern the closely related coatings if a high quality measurement of the reflection profile can be obtained.
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