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Nanotech Self-Healing Houses

A "self-healing" house is under construction on a Greek mountainside. Leeds NanoManufacturing Institute will take the lead in a EU-funded project by developing special walls with nano polymer particles. The intent is that when squeezed under pressure (during a quake), the nano polymer particles will flow into cracks and harden to form a solid material.

This house will have more going for it than nanotech. The house walls will be built from unique load-bearing steel frames. But the house will also contain wireless, battery-less sensors and RFID tags to collect data over time - information about stresses and vibration, temperature and humidity.

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

The idea of a house that constantly monitors itself and can actually repair itself - and even change its own shape - is found in the remarkable story The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista by the British writer J.G. Ballard. He describes a psychotropic house that changes its shape, protects itself and even heals itself.

As far as interior space is concerned, the secret lies in the walls - which were made of substance called "plastex", which sounds like the Leeds nano polymer particle walls on steroids:

As it responded to me, the ceiling lifting slightly and the walls growing less opaque, reflecting my perspective-seeking eye, I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily. Deep hidden rifts began to distort the sphere, ballooning out one of the alcoves like a bubble of overextended gum.
(Read more about plastex)

If real-world buildings with a science-fictional twist appeal to you, take a look at these:

Read more about ‘Self-healing’ house in Greece will dare to defy nature.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/16/2007)

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