Mind & Matter


Architects Make Buckypaper

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Carbon nano tubes. Photo by Anastasios John Hart.


I have been intrigued by the numbers of architects entering the material manufacturing business. Companies like Panelite, Sensitile, and PadLAb started when architects couldn’t find particular products in the marketplace, and therefore decided to make them instead. While such new products typically make bold statements, they usually don’t require Ph.D.s in nanotechnology for their fabrication.

Decker Yeardon, an experimental architecture firm based in New York, decided on a more ambitious path. Fascinated with carbon nanotubes, the firm developed a method for creating a sheet of carbon nanotube Buckypaper—a material more than 500 times stronger and 10 times lighter than steel. According to Inhabitat, Decker Yeardon is the first architecture firm to synthesize the super material, and they propose using it in future building projects. Although it will take significant time and money to achieve large-scale production of Buckypaper, the firm certainly has made a notable example with its research.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.