While concrete is a cheap and strong material, it is prone to cracking, especially when there are quick and drastic changes in temperature. These cracks are annoying, but can also be quite dangerous if the concrete is, for example, holding nuclear waste.
A team of scientists from North Carolina and the University of Eastern Finland have a new development that could help avert such disasters. According to City Metric, they are working to create a "skin" that would detect when there are any cracks or other damage to the surface of concrete.
This would involve installing electrodes to the edge of concrete structures, which would emit a current over the painted surface. As the surface weakens, cracks or gets damaged, the paint would become less conductive, signaling a change in the state of the structure.
The researchers have tested the method on small, one-meter-long pieces of concrete. They will be performing tests on bigger surfaces with the hopes of seeing it work in real-world situations.
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