In this episode of Future Lens our hosts Gordon Stencell and Mark Pundzius discuss construction breakthroughs. Be prepared to be amazed as they introduce you to new technologies that support designers, architects and builders to create innovative and more sustainable structures. Each of these “new generation materials” is engineered to last for centuries and not hurt the environment.
Transparent Aluminum / Optical Ceramic Transparencies
ALON is ceramic alloy that is almost twice as hard as sapphire, doesn’t corrode and is resistant to radiation and oxidation. It can be used to create stronger windows for homes as easily as for domes in outer space or in the fabrication of undersea vehicles. Capable of stopping 50 caliber armor piercing rounds, ALON “glass” houses may one day turn out not to be so fragile after all.
When used as the foundation of a structure, this new wood product offers better insulation and is stronger than conventional wood, yet remains biodegradable. Being 90% transparent, it can be used to augment traditional lighting sources when designing structures. By removing the lignin from wood, and then filing the cells with a transparent polymer that matches the optical properties of the wood’s individual cells, the material is made translucent.
Invisible Solar Cells
This incredible new material was developed by researchers at Michigan State University. It could change the way that we think about and integrate solar energy. Some proposed potential applications include developing electric cars with transparent cells on their windows and roofs or on airplanes to generate power passively without being noticed. Although much work remains to be done before it can go to mainstream markets, early indications are that this product could be a game changer.
This non-flammable concrete is engineered with tiny glass beads that glow when they reflect light. The use of LuminTech® enables horizontal surfaces, facades, precast parts and designer furniture to be adorned with luminous radiance at night. Practical in that is provides luminescence at night without a need for a power source, it can be used artistically to add interest to nightscaping while enhancing a sense of community safety and security.