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Smart Materials: 10 Latest Products In The Market

Smart materials are materials with extraordinary properties that respond to external stimuli. They are transforming the landscape of technology, design, and everyday life. These materials possess the ability to adapt, change, and even enhance their functionalities based on environmental conditions. Thus, it makes them dynamic and responsive. In this fascinating journey, we will explore the diverse array of smart materials, their applications across industries. We shall also explore the exciting possibilities they unlock for the future. Welcome to the world of materials that think, react, and evolve – welcome to the world of smart materials.

1. Light-Emitting Cement

Smart Materials
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Light-emitting cement, also known as luminescent or photoluminescent cement, contains materials that can absorb and store light energy during the day and release it as visible light in low-light or dark conditions. These materials typically include phosphorescent compounds or nanoparticles. Light-emitting cement has applications in pathways, road markings, and other areas where visibility in the dark is crucial. It enhances safety by providing a visible pathway without the need for external power sources.

2. Shape Memory Alloys

Smart Materials
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Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs) are metallic materials that exhibit the ability to return to a predefined shape or form after deformation when subjected to certain external stimuli, typically a change in temperature. In addition to shape memory, SMAs often exhibit superelasticity, allowing them to undergo large deformations and recover their original shape upon unloading. Use case examples in the architecture or construction industry are retractable roofs, adaptive facades, seismic dampers, smart windows and shading systems, responsive roofs, adjusting louvres, and dynamic skylights, amongst many others.

3. Bio-Concrete

Smart Materials
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Bio-Concrete is a type of concrete that incorporates certain biological or microbiological processes to enhance its properties. One of the key features of bio-concrete is its ability to heal itself through the activity of bacteria or other microorganisms. When cracks form in the concrete, these spores become activated by moisture and produce calcium carbonate, sealing the cracks and restoring the material’s integrity. The use of bacteria to promote self-healing reduces the need for additional repair materials, contributing to the sustainability of concrete structures. The self-healing capability enhances the durability and longevity of structures, particularly in harsh environmental conditions. Bio-concrete has potential applications in various construction projects, especially in situations where maintaining structural integrity over time is critical.

4. Carbon fibre

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Carbon fibre is a lightweight, high-strength material composed of thin, strong crystalline filaments made mostly of carbon atoms. These fibres combine with other materials to form composites with exceptional strength-to-weight ratios. Carbon fibre exhibits high tensile strength, low weight, and excellent resistance to temperature, chemicals, and corrosion. Carbon fibre-reinforced composites are in building materials such as beams, columns, and panels, offering an alternative to traditional materials like steel and concrete. The lightweight nature of carbon fibre allows for easier transportation and installation, reducing overall construction time and costs. The use of carbon fibre continues to grow, driven by advancements in manufacturing techniques and ongoing research to make it more cost-effective.

5. Aerogel

Smart Materials
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Aerogel is a lightweight material with extremely low density and excellent thermal-insulating properties. Aerogels are typically composed of a gel, which is a network of interconnected solid particles suspended in a gas or liquid that is then replaced with a gas to create an aerogel structure. Silicon dioxide is a common material in aerogels, and it has the nickname “frozen smoke.” Aerogel-based insulation materials can be incorporated into walls, roofs, and windows for efficient heat-saving. Besides that, they can also be used in glazing systems, lightweight construction materials, insulated pipelines, energy efficient skylights, or domes as well. Ongoing research aims to expand the practical applications of aerogels.

6. Smart Glass

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Smart Glass, also known as switchable or dynamic glass, is a type of glass that can alter its light transmission properties in response to external stimuli. Smart glass often uses electrochromic technology, which allows it to change colour or opacity when an electrical voltage is applied. This technology enables control over the amount of light, heat, or glare entering a space. Smart glass has diverse applications, including windows in buildings, automotive sunroofs, and display screens. It is used to enhance energy efficiency, provide privacy on demand, and improve user comfort. Various types of smart glass, like electrochromic, photochromic, or thermochromic, are available on the market, each with their own unique properties.

Smart Materials
Image Credits: archdaily.com

7. Hydroceramic

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The material developed by Spanish students represents an innovative solution that combines ceramics with hydrogel bubbles, showcasing remarkable versatility in environmental adaptation. On hot days, these spheres absorb water and utilize evaporative cooling to lower the surrounding temperature, contributing to a more comfortable environment. Conversely, during rainy and cooler days, the bubbles expand, maintaining their insulating properties. This dynamic adaptation ensures that the material acts as both a cooling mechanism and a thermal insulator, enhancing the energy efficiency of buildings. The integration of ceramics and hydrogel bubbles demonstrates a promising approach to sustainable construction materials.

8. Transparent Wood

Smart Materials
Image Credits: re-thinkingthefuture.com

Transparent wood, a material resulting from the removal of lignin from wood while preserving its cellulose structure, combines the inherent strength of wood with optical transparency. With the ability to transmit light, transparent wood is emerging as a compelling alternative to traditional glass in architectural applications. Beyond its structural integrity, transparent wood offers thermal insulation, sustainability benefits from the use of responsibly sourced wood, and biodegradability, aligning with environmentally conscious construction practices. Architects are exploring its applications in windows, facades, and other structural elements, appreciating its aesthetic appeal and potential contributions to energy-efficient building design.

9. Piezoelectric Materials

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Embedded within structural elements, piezoelectric materials harness mechanical vibrations from various sources, such as foot traffic or wind-induced movements, and convert them into electrical energy. This harvested energy can be utilized to power low-energy devices, contributing to the building’s energy needs. Beyond energy harvesting, piezoelectric sensors play a vital role in structural health monitoring, providing real-time data on mechanical stress and strain to ensure the structural integrity of buildings. Architects are incorporating piezoelectric materials into facades, windows, and infrastructure, creating structures that not only respond adaptively to environmental conditions but also contribute to the aesthetic appeal of the built environment.

10. Hydromembrane

Image Credits: machinedesign.com

Hydro membrane is an energy-efficient composite material designed on principles for passive, self-regulating ventilation and cooling. Its shape-memory property responds to environmental changes, efficiently managing interior temperature, airflow, and humidity. With six layers of materials with distinct properties, the membrane adapts to moisture. Notably, its water absorption and evaporation capabilities create a secondary cooling effect, enhancing overall efficiency. The material’s thinness and high flexibility make it suitable for use as both a micro-scale textile in interiors and at a macro-scale for the building skin. Its potential to act as a second skin for existing structures further underscores its role in sustainable architecture.

Conclusion

Smart materials, are inspired by their capacity to revolutionize the way we approach design, engineering, and the solutions to the challenges of our time. The future promises even greater strides in harnessing the intelligence embedded within materials, opening doors to unprecedented applications and ground breaking advancements. The story of smart materials is not just a tale of scientific discovery; it is a narrative of endless possibilities.

Content Writing And Research By: Ar. Ishita Jindal

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