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December 8, 2017

A fracture-resistant cement could make mile-high skyscrapers possible

Imagine a fracture-resistant material that could be used to create a building 10 times as high as the world’s current tallest building, without being destroyed under its own weight. That is something that researchers from the University of Konstanz in Germany have been working on. They have developed a new type of cement with impressive anti-cracking properties that is capable of resisting the kind of fractures found in regular cement. Not only could it be used for constructing incredibly tall buildings, but also more earthquake-proof structures, and new thinner building developments that nonetheless retain an impressively high level of strength.

Oh, and did we mention that it is inspired by small spiny creatures which live underwater?

“We have changed the nanostructure of cement and made it more ordered by taking inspiration from the sea urchin spine structure,” Professor Helmut Cölfen told Digital Trends. “The main novelty of our work is that the fracture resistance of calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) — the binder in cement and concrete — was significantly improved by the first reported ordered CSH nanostructure. The problem of CSH is that, although it shows good compressive strength, it presents a lack of elasticity and has a poor flexural strength. This problem is now overcome with our elastic [material].”

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