Mind & Matter


Building a Sensory Material Web

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Photo: iStock Photo Courtesy: DiscoveryNews


One of the most intriguing trends in advanced material technology is sensory capability. As I mentioned in my lecture last week at the ARCHITECT R+D Symposium, materials that can sense and respond to contextual changes will continue to proliferate throughout the built environment.

A recent example is a technology developed by Stanford University scientists that redefines the sensory capacity of aircraft. The superfine mesh of temperature and strain sensors resembles a spider’s web, and performs similarly as a sensitive environmental detection system.

According to researcher Fu-Kuo Chang, "We want to make airplanes that fly like birds... aircraft that have all the sensing information about what is happening around them, just like birds do." The new mesh system is made up of ultrasonic wave-inducing piezoelectric devices that will inform pilots of important material changes—such as microscopic structural fissures—before they become major problems.



Comments (1 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 1:58 PM Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    okay i will let you fly on it first.

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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.