Nano Technology

Nanotechnology

Only recently thought of in futuristic terms, Nanoarchitecture is now firmly in the present. This amazing phenomenon is already beginning to transform the way architects think. Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at a scale of one to one hundred billionths of a meter and its impact on material design and the processes of building will soon revolutionise how and what we build. This technology, coupled with the need for carbon neutrality in buildings will have a huge impact on the construction process over the coming decades.

Nanotechnological products such as self-cleaning windows, smog-eating concrete and energy scavenging nanosensors are already with us and this is market is rapidly becoming a huge growth area with many new nanotechnology companies being spawned year on year. These early nanomaterials are only the first tentative steps into this technological revolution; however scientists are already designing nanocomposites as thin as glass, yet capable of supporting entire buildings and photosynthetic coatings that could make building surfaces a source of free energy. Revolutionary materials such as coatings a single atom thick, carbon nanotubes up to 50 times stronger than steel (yet 10 times lighter), and chameleon-like materials that could enable us to change the colour of almost any object instantaneously are already in the pipeline.

These remarkable Nanotechnological materials are achievable due to the fact that matter behaves differently at these minute scales. The laws of quantum physics apply allowing objects to change colour, shape, and phase much more easily than at the macro scale. Fundamental properties like strength, surface-to-mass ratio, conductivity, and elasticity can be engineered to create dramatically different materials. For instance, nano composites, which combine new nanomaterials with more traditional ones such as steel, concrete, glass, and plastics, can be many times stronger than standard materials. Already on the market is a nano composite steel that is three times stronger than conventional steel. In the near term, nano composite reinforcement of steel, concrete, glass, and plastics will dramatically improve the performance, durability, and strength-to-weight ratio of these materials. Before long, nano-reinforced glass might be used for both structure and enclosure.