Thermal biometals help buildings shelter themselves from the sun

Chinese building with thermal biometals

Architecture professor Doris Kim Sung has given an excellent TED talk on her work with thermal biometals, showing how the so-called ‘smart materials’ can be used to create self-managing systems for buildings. One important use is allowing buildings to react to sunlight, changing their configurations at different times of the day to prevent overheating. The key to this behavior is a curling process created by combining two different metals in one sheet — when heated, the materials expand at different rates, one overtaking the other.

Sung has taken inspiration from grasshoppers

When individual panels are combined and arranged, this simple movement can be used to develop complex systems, but creating shade isn’t their only use. Spurred…

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