We have Smart TVs, smartphones, smart windows, smart cars, just what other things can we cram in a “brain” and call it smart as well? Here’s an idea – how about smart paint? Researchers from Scotland are working on a low-cost smart paint which is able to detect microscopic faults in structures including bridges, wind turbines, and mines. Just what kind of sorcery makes up this unique paint? Well, it is made of highly aligned carbon nanotubes, where these nanotubes will be able to carry an electrical current, while a recycled waste product known as fly ash is mixed to produce a cement-like property, making it more than just useful in those nooks and crannies that weather prevents one from carrying out regular safety monitoring without having to go through a whole lot of hassle in the first place.
According to Mohamed Saafi, chair of the university’s department of civil engineering, “There are no limitations as to where it could be used, and the low-cost nature gives it a significant advantage over the current options available in the industry. The process of producing and applying the paint also gives it an advantage, as no expertise is required and monitoring itself is straightforward.” Should the carbon nanotubes in the paint start to bend, their conductivity will alter, which point out potential structural defects. You can also opt to spray the paint onto any surface, where wireless communication nodes that are attached to it will enable remote monitoring of unseen damage in the form of micro-cracks. Sounds like this needs to be perfected and released to the market, pronto!