'Self-healing' house in Greece will dare to defy nature

April 02, 2007

A high-tech villa designed to resist earthquakes by 'self-healing' cracks in its own walls and monitoring vibrations through an intelligent sensor network will be built on a Greek mountainside.

The University of Leeds' NanoManufacturing Institute (NMI) will play a crucial role in the £9.5 million European Union-funded project by developing special walls for the house that contain nano polymer particles - these will turn into a liquid when squeezed under pressure, flow into the cracks, and then harden to form a solid material.

NMI chief executive Professor Terry Wilkins said: "What we're trying to achieve here is very exciting; we're looking to use polymers in much tougher situations than ever before on a larger scale."

Nanotechnology involves making things with useful scientific properties on a tiny scale - less than one-hundred thousandth the width of a human hair.

The house walls will be built from novel load bearing steel frames and high-strength gypsum board. But they will be unique for another reason too - they'll contain wireless, battery-less sensors and Leeds-designed radio frequency identity tags that collect vast amounts of data about the building over time, such as any stresses and vibrations, temperature, humidity and gas levels.

"If there are any problems, the intelligent sensor network will alert residents straightaway so they have time to escape," added Professor Wilkins.

The Leeds team also includes Dr Roger Gregory, chairman of University spinout company Instrumentel Ltd, who said: "Leeds are world leaders in designing wireless networks for extreme environments and hard-to-access places. Even if the building totally collapsed, the sensors would still let you pinpoint the source of the fault."

Instrumentel will work in partnership with Dr Greg Horler in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering to deliver this potentially life-saving technology.

Meanwhile, Professor Anne Neville's team in the School of Mechanical Engineering will research new ways of designing the polymer nano-particles required.

Professor Wilkins said: "Once we have the optimum design, we could quickly start producing thousands of litres of nanoparticle fluid, adding just a tiny percentage to the gypsum mix."

Leeds is the only UK university asked to join 25 other partners in the project, led by the German building manufacturer Knauf. Due to be completed in December 2010, the work is worth around £980,000 to Leeds.
-end-
For further information, contact Simon Jenkins at the University of Leeds press office on +44 (0)113 3435764, or by email at s.jenkins@leeds.ac.uk.

University of Leeds

Related Wireless Articles from Brightsurf:

5G wireless may lead to inaccurate weather forecasts
Upcoming 5G wireless networks that will provide faster cell phone service may lead to inaccurate weather forecasts, according to a Rutgers study on a controversial issue that has created anxiety among meteorologists.

Terahertz receiver for 6G wireless communications
Future wireless networks of the 6th generation (6G) will consist of a multitude of small radio cells that need to be connected by broadband communication links.

Faster LEDs for wireless communications from invisible light
Researchers have solved a major problem for optical wireless communications - the process by which light carries information between cell phones and other devices.

A location system to drive future wireless innovation
There are many barriers to innovation in wireless communications. Inadequate documentation; uncooperative chipset manufacturers; widely varying hardware and software specifications; steep learning curves in the experimentation phase and difficulties in prototyping are among the biggest issues that hamper development.

Novel transmitter protects wireless devices from hackers
MIT researchers have developed a novel transmitter that frequency hops each individual 1 or 0 bit of a data packet, every microsecond, which is fast enough to thwart even the quickest hackers.

New algorithm keeps data fresh in wireless networks
Algorithm provides networks with the most current information available while avoiding data congestion.

Want to make your factory wireless? NIST can guide you!
Knowing that it will take reliable wireless communications to make the smart factory of the not-so-distant future a reality, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published the first-ever set of science-based guidelines to help users select the best wireless system for any specific industrial environment, custom-design the setup to make it work, successfully deploy it, and then ensure that the network performs as needed.

The first wireless flying robotic insect takes off
Engineers at the University of Washington have created RoboFly, the first wireless flying robotic insect.

The future of wireless communications is terahertz
Electrical and optical engineers in Australia have designed a novel platform that could tailor telecommunication and optical transmissions.

Advances open new frequency range for wireless communications
The 'internet of things,' which make everything from your toaster to your front door accessible online, has driven an explosion in data traffic and taken up huge amounts of bandwidth.

Read More: Wireless News and Wireless Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.