Healthcare Curtains or Smart Glass?

Healthcare curtains on partitions, windows and doors do not offer the same levels of hygiene, privacy or sunlight control as smart glass. If you are looking to improve daylighting, patient health and recovery times, speak to us today about the options available with smart glass.

Why is glass more hygienic than curtains?

Glass is non-porous, much like stainless steel, Krion and some plastics, and thus allows for easy cleaning and disinfection due to its microscopically even surface.

Healthcare curtains are porous

We define porosity as the space within a material’s surface that can house pathogens (i.e. germs, bacteria and viruses). 

Examples of porous surfaces include untreated wood, granite, cork, cardboard, sponge and fabrics, including curtains used in healthcare facilities!

Some porous materials come with moisture-resistant coatings, but these eventually wear off and can deteriorate with the process of disinfection.

Highly porous surfaces allow for the growth of biofilms. These 3-dimensional structures of microbial cells attach to surfaces such as pipes, contact lenses and implantable medical devices. Not forgetting clothes, furniture and curtains!

Biofilms are resistant to biocides, making them particularly difficult to remove. Removal can be achieved by cleaning and / or disinfecting, so we should clarify the difference:-

  • Cleaning: refers to the physical removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces whereas; 
  • Disinfection: refers to killing the germs and bacteria found on surfaces through chemical agents. (source: CDC).

Replacing Healthcare Curtains with Glass

So, replacing healthcare curtains with ordinary glass would give an immediate benefit because porous fabrics would be altogether eliminated, along with the periodic costs of washing and replacement. 

This would reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) arising from germs, bacteria and viruses. These can be found present on the patient’s body, or when the body’s defences are weakened by medical procedures. 

Examples of HCAIs include Seasonal Influenza (the flu), MRSA (Meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), Clostridium difficile (C.diff) and the highly contagious norovirus which leads to many cases of gastroenteritis.

Privacy and Hygiene with Smart Glass

Replacing healthcare curtains with normal glass however would lose the benefit of privacy and control over sunlight, which is the reason we needed curtains in the first place!

Smart glass solves these issues with its ability to change reversibly between 

  • opaque and transparent, or
  • translucent and transparent, or
  • by reflecting infrared on-demand, which reduces overheating in buildings.

Examples of smart glass technologies suitable for healthcare environments include active materials such as liquid crystals (PDLC), SPD, electrochromic and electrophoretic smart glass.

These can be combined with transparent photovoltaic layers to power the smart glass via sunlight!

Examples of passive materials include photochromic and thermochromic glass, as well as translucent concrete, which brings light deep into building interiors.

Furthermore, active smart glass technologies can be voice-controlled, or can be driven automatically by sensors connected to a building management system, further reducing contact-based transmission of pathogens.

Got a Question?

Drop us a line and ask us about the variety of smart glass options available that could replace healthcare curtains and drapes for improved privacy and daylight control.

We have been delivering smart glass solutions (hardware and software) since 2009, so we know what we are talking about.

We are vendor-neutral and objective!


  1. “Porous and nonporous hard surfaces for healthcare applications”, Health Facilities Management (HFM) Magazine, URL
  2. “Cleaning and Disinfection for Households”, US Center for Disease Control, URL
  3. “Biofilms and their role in pathogenesis”, Centre of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Nottingham, URL.
  4. “Healthcare associated infections (HCAI)”, NHS, URL
  5. “Evidence Processing on Porous and Non-Porous Surfaces”, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
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