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Researchers develop more fracture-resistant cement

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World Cement,

A team of researchers at the University of Konstanz has developed a synthetic cement based on the nanostructure sea urchin spines that is significantly more fracture resistant than traditional cements.

Sea urchin spines have a brick-wall style architecture that provides durability, despite being made of calcite, a brittle and fragile material. Copying that “brick-and-mortar principle” and applying it to cement has resulted in the development of cement that is far more durable than any other cement developed so far, according to Prof. Helmut Cölfen, who headed the research.

“Our cement provides us with completely new construction possibilities,” continued Cölfen, noting that a pillar made of this cement could be built up to 8000 m high, before material at its base would crumble under its own weight. In contrast, a similar steel structure could only reach 3000 m high.

In order to benefit from the increased stability provided by a brick-and-mortar structure, cement – which has a disordered structure – has to be reorganised at the nano-level, added Cölfen, who describes the process as “encoding fracture-resistance at the nano-level.”

“People have much better construction materials than calcite. If we succeed in designing the structures of materials and reproduce nature’s blueprints, we will also be able to produce much more fracture-resistant materials - high-performance materials inspired by nature,” concluded Cölfen.

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