The tinnitus of everyday life has been largely relegated to the fringe, but a new nanotechnology may help repair ailing homes and buildings.
Researchers have developed nano-sized mechanical devices that could fix leaking roofs, which they say could also be used for more practical applications, such as the repair of damaged or corroded electronics or plumbing.
The nano-motors, which weigh less than 10 nanometres, are capable of breaking through water and can be controlled to make a controlled movement to open or close a crack or a leak.
They can be inserted into cracks, cut out or otherwise fix holes and holes that don’t need fixing, such a water leak, said researcher, Dr Peter Smith from the University of Newcastle.
“The motor can move over small cracks and seal holes,” Dr Smith told The Australian Financial Review.
He said the devices could be used to open up gaps or fill gaps in a house’s waterproof roof.
Dr Smith said the technology could be developed into a small mechanical machine that could be inserted in cracks, and the device could be moved and fixed to seal a hole.
While the nanotubes can’t be used as replacement for traditional repair methods, they could be more cost-effective, he said.
One of the key advantages of this method is that the mechanical devices can be used in combination with traditional mechanical systems, he explained.
In this scenario, for example, the mechanical system can be installed in a home’s basement, then removed and replaced in the house by a new mechanical system installed in the attic, he added.
Another potential application is for the nanos to be used at the local, regional and national level, where the materials can be readily and inexpensively sourced.
A team from Newcastle University’s Faculty of Architecture and Planning, led by Dr Smith, has published its findings in a recent paper in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics.
Using a novel fabrication technique, they created a nanosized electrical motor that can drive a device that is just 10 micrometres across, said Dr Smith.
It’s possible the device would also work in other sizes, he told the Financial Review, but it’s still unclear how the nanotechnology would be used.
However, Dr Smith said that the nanotor technology could have applications in the construction industry.
“[The] ability to design and fabricate a high performance electrical motor for a building could potentially allow us to achieve higher efficiency of a building’s energy use and provide cheaper energy than conventional systems,” he said, adding that a potential application for the system would be to control the size of the mechanical device.
Future research would include creating a system that can control the width and height of the nanostructures. _____