New and Emerging Materials

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29 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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New and Emerging Materials

Dale Fenton

Plastic Structural Members

While current use of polymers is reduced to non
structural applications there are
advances with some high
density polymers that provide sufficient strength for use in
structural superstructures and eventually in highly plastic structural shapes.

Some of these plastics have the benefit of being fire
resistant, and nonreactive with
the environment once in place.

Some uses of high
density plastics can currently be seen in transmission towers and
lightweight bridges. Plastic formed “lumber” is also available and while it is only
currently available in standard sizes could be produced into more organic and fluid
forms for exterior applications where resistance to rotting is desired.

Plastic Structural Adhesives

Great advances are being made in the strength and durability of polymer adhesives.
While many are currently used for sealants and construction adhesives there is hope
that at some point these adhesives may be strong and versatile enough to essentially
“glue” disparate building modules together in strong, durable structurally sound
bonds so that mechanical fasteners could be avoided. Current structural adhesives
are based on epoxy, acrylic or polyurethane chemistry. In the future there may be
adhesives capable of providing structural bonds similar to welds between different
materials such as metals, plastics, wood, and glass.

Tech Concrete

There is significant research into new types of concrete with varying
properties. The most promising advancements are in ductile concrete
which has increased strength in compression compared to normal
concrete, but also can accept significant tensile stresses making it
appropriate for creating complex forms without the need to
incorporate reinforcing steel because the mixture uses small
aggregate and includes fiber reinforcing from carbon
fiber, glass fiber
or other high
tensile strength materials.

Smart Materials

Smart Materials include a broad category of newly developing substances and
composites with incredible properties. Some of these are:

materials that produce a voltage when stress is applied

Shape memory materials:
can be deformed and returned to their original shape

healing materials:
can repair damage to themselves

Other types of materials respond to changes in: magnetic fields, pH differences,
temperature, light, or other external stimuli.


An extremely lightweight, manufactured material derived from a gel where the liquid component is
replaced with gas through supercritical drying.

Impressive load bearing capabilities

Dendritic microstructure

spherical particles 2
5 nm fused together in clusters

99% air


current structures easily shattered with enough force

Good thermal insulators

nullifies convection, conduction, and radiation

Types of Aerogel


lowest density solid 1mg/cm3

absorbs solar radiation, traps heat

extremely low thermal conductivity 0.03 W/mk to 0.004 W/mk

currently used aboard Stardust spacecrafts to trap space dust


can be electrically conductive, depending on density

absorbs infrared radiation



made of agar, substance derived from kelp or red algae

currently used in time
release medical pills and sound damping for trains

Possible Uses in Architecture


good load
bearing capabilities


Aerogel lattice traps air

poor conductor of heat

absorbs solar radiation


Carbon Nanotubes

A form of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure.

Belongs to Fullerene structural family

Strong tensile strength

due to “covalent sp2 bonds between individual carbon atoms”

specific strength up to 48,000


carbon steel 154


Weak in compression

Low density solid

1.3 to 1.4


Length to diameter ratio 132,000,000 : 1

1/50,000th width of human hair

up to 18 cm long

Efficient thermal conductor

Current applications

Carbon nanotubes currently used is fragmented masses

Used as composite fibers in polymers

Zyvex Performance Materials

bicycle components, lightweight boat 8,000 lbs

underwater sonar speakers


A lightweight, synthetic fiber spun from liquid crystalline solution.

Manufactured by DuPont

High tensile strength, light weight

5x stronger than steel

Range of products

Pulp, fiber, paper, felt

Body armor, military uses

Storm shelter

DuPont Storm Shelter

anchored in ground with concrete

resists wind and gusts up to 250 mi/hr

integrated with house

includes wiring and plumbing

Spider Silk

“High performance

from natural or artificial proteins based on
the principles used by spiders and insects to create natural silk

6x stronger than steel

5x stronger than Kevlar

Manufactured by

current devices produces silk 4x thicker (15 microns ) than natural
spider silk

High strength to weight ratio

Strong in tension

stretches 140% of length without breaking

Current applications

Sutures, tissue replacement, bone and joint repair

Currently difficult to mass produce

spiders squirt out thick gel solution, use body weight and gravity to
elongate into fibers

alignment of protein fibers give strength

Genetically engineered silkworms



: a catalog of materials that redefine our physical environment / edited by Blaine E. Brownell.

New York : Princeton Architectural Press, c2006

performance construction materials : science and applications / editors,

Shi, Y.L. Mo.

Singapore ; Hackensack, NJ : World Scientific, 2008

Materials for the third millennium / editors, R.K. Ray ... [et al.]

Enfield, NH, USA : Science Publishers, c2001

Material architecture : emergent materials for innovative buildings and ecological construction / John

Boston : Architectural Press, c2006