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Nanotechnology in Building and Construction. Dr. Joannie W. Chin. Why nanotechnology in building and construction?. Emerging nanotechologies in building and construction. Technical barriers. OPPORTUNITIES. 30,000 ft view. Nanostructured Materials.

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Presentation Transcript

Why nanotechnology in building and construction?

Emerging nanotechologies in building and construction

Technical barriers


30,000 ft view

nanostructured materials
Nanostructured Materials
  • Gaining control of materials at the nanoscale brings different laws of physics into play.
  • Traditional materials show radically enhanced properties when engineered at the nanoscale.
material needs in building and construction
Material Needs in Building and Construction
  • Deterioration of the nation’s infrastructure:
    • Cost of repairs is estimated to exceed $2 trillion (NRC, ASCE).
    • Housing is plagued with poor material quality and excessive fire losses that have led to premature failure and annual repair costs exceeding $60 billion.
  • Nanotechnology offers tremendous potential for improving building materials.

“The construction industry was the only industry to identify nanotechnology as a promising emerging technology in the UK Delphi Survey in the early 1990s… However, construction has lagged behind other industrial sectors, such as automotive, chemicals, electronics and biotech sectors, where nanotechnology R&D has attracted significant interest and investment from large industrial corporations and venture capitalists.”

“Application of Nanotechnology in Construction”, Materials and Structures, 37, 649 (2004).


Nanomaterials in Construction

  • Strong industry interest in use of nanostructured materials to improve service life and flammability performance of building materials
  • Lack of measurement science capability to predict service life and flammability performance of nanostructured materials.
  • Measurement science research is critical to enable U.S. construction industry to innovate and respond to global competition and new environmental regulations
cement and concrete
Cement and Concrete
  • Nano silica and clinker used to increase densification and hence mechanical properties and durability of cementitious materials.
  • Service life can be doubled through the use of nano-additive viscosity enhancers which reduce diffusion of harmful agents in concrete (patent pending).
  • Photocatalytic TiO2 added to concrete to reduce carbon monoxide and NOx emissions on roadways.
carbon nanotubes

Enhanced strength, stiffness and toughness without added weight

  • Improved durability
  • Increased functionality
  • Reduced flammability
Carbon Nanotubes
  • Heralded as one of the “Top ten advances in materials science” over the last 50 years, Materials Today, 2008.
  • Sales of carbon nanotubes projected to
  • exceed $2B, >103 metric tons annually in the next 4 - 7 years.
  • Major use – electronics and composites.
carbon nanotubes9
Carbon Nanotubes
  • Probes for microscopy and chemical imaging
coatings organic
Coatings - Organic
  • Projected to make up 73 % of nanocomposites market by 2010 (Freedonia Group).
  • Thin film, clear nanocomposites for improved scratch and mar properties.
  • Antimicrobial, self-cleaning surfaces.
  • Smart coatings: Sense pressure, impact, damage, chemicals, heat, light, etc.
coatings inorganic
Coatings - Inorganic

Self-cleaning glass

Nano-TiO2 coated


transparent TiO2





  • Predominant photovoltaic material is silicon, but an emerging technology involves the use of dye-sensitized nano-TiO2.
  • Large surface area of nano TiO2 greatly increases photovoltaic efficiency.
  • Also has potential for lower material and processing costs relative to conventional solar cells.
nanoadditive fire retardants
Nanoadditive Fire Retardants
  • Use of nanoadditive fire retardants prompted by bans on halogenated flame retardants enacted in many states.
  • Polymer nanocomposites filled with clay, CNTs, etc., possess improved flammability resistance while maintaining or improving mechanical properties.
  • Reduces heat release rate during fire event by formation of surface char which insulates underlying material.

Heat Flux

Heat Flux

Poor Dispersion

Good Dispersion

  • Techniques for dispersing nanofillers AND measuring degree of dispersion.
  • Measurement of adhesion and interfacial properties.
  • Chemical and mechanical measurements at the nanoscale.
  • Prediction of nanocomposite properties and service life over a wide range of length scales.
  • Unknown health and environmental effects – virgin, released material.
  • Concrete with 2x service life – Dale Bentz,
  • Functionalized carbon nanotubes for nanocomposites and chemical probes – Tinh Nguyen,
  • Nano fire retardants – Jeff Gilman,
  • General inquiries – Joannie Chin,, 301 975 6815