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Magazine » smart materials

Heat-sensitive Surfaces

Interaction for Design and Architecture

36/2010

In recent years there has been a great development of materials and coatings that react to "stimuli" in the external environment. in particular, thermo-chromatic pigments, born out of the necessity for control and safety (eg. to check that frozen products are not overheating) are now used in everyday products and open up infinite possibilities for experimentation in interior design and fashion. Some examples are wallpapers that change colour by touch, chairs that record the imprint of whoever sits there, or furniture made by the architect Jürgen Mayer H. Systems based on plastics that react to temperature changes are currently being researched at the Fraunhofer institute. According to experts, the demand for intelligent polymer sheets to use as thermal sensors is expected to increase. They are applied on the facade of a building, for example, so these materials could optimise the use of air conditioning inside.

 

A material develops thermochromatic qualities, i.e. the capacity to vary colour due to a change in temperature, by the integration of thermochromic pigments in a coating. The thermochromatic effect is caused by changes in crystal structure. Typical thermochromatic materials include inorganic metal oxides (e.g. zinc oxide, vanadium oxide), polymer blends or liquid crystals, which on warming do not change directly from the crystalline to the liquid state. Particularly thermosensitive hydrogels for sun protection are the subject of ongoing research. Thermal lacquers are already available on the market for a lot of different applications and can easily be applied to most material surfaces. The reaction temperature can be adjusted and the colour changes defined. Thermochromatic resins can be mixed with conventional moulding materials and used for the production of plastic components.

 

www.jmayerh.de

www.iap.fraunhofer.de
 

image source: www.zaneberzina.de

 

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