A magic paint…Saturday, June 30th, 2012 by Roberto Saracco
We are starting to see an explosion of applications of nanotechnology in a variety of fields, from cosmetics (solar screens) to sensors and hundreds more.
Now researchers at the Rice University have demonstrated a transparent paint containing nano particles that can be used to check for surface stress using a laser beam. The refraction of the beam changes depending on the stresses of the surface. This turns out to be very useful since it can be used to monitor stress in buildings, aircraft, bridges….. And the monitoring is very cheap, can be done at a distance and as often as desired.
One can imagine that a routine stress check is done at the gate when a plane docks to the bridge, automatically. Once a stress is detected (as result of strong turbulence and metal fatigue) an alarm can be generated and more accurate tests can be performed. Similarly, a bridge can be checked from the shores by a moving laser beams to control all of its structure, to see how it has reacted to strong wind or to an earthquake, same can apply to a building.
Now several buildings and bridges incorporate stress sensors but they are measuring local stress in the area where they are located. With this kind of paint one can monitor all parts of the bridge or of the building.
Since the paint is transparent there are no esthetic issues. The underlying color is preserved.
This is just another way were nanotechnology is showing its usefulness. Be prepared to see many more as researchers keep experimenting it.
And, of course, this brings more data to be analyzed and transmitted, something a Telecom Company is happy about!