Concrete is strong, but it isn’t unbreakable. Aging, weathering, and too much stress can cause concrete to crack and break. Then disasters like collapsed bridges can occur.
Why It Matters
- The human eye can detect weaknesses in concrete only after a crack has already occurred. By then, costly repairs may be needed. Concrete inspectors also can’t keep up with the number of bridges and other concrete structures they need to inspect.
- What if there was a way to monitor the strength of concrete before it actually cracked. Better yet, what if the concrete could monitor itself? It sounds impossible, but a scientist named Dr. Deborah Chung has used her expert knowledge of materials to create concrete that can do just that.
- Watch this video to learn more: http://www.nbclearn.com/science-of-innovation/cuecard/62976
Can You Apply It?
At the links below, learn more about smart concrete and its developer Dr. Deborah Chung. Then answer the following questions.
- What is concrete? Besides bridges, what else is concrete used for?
- What material did Dr. Chung add to concrete? What property does this material have?
- How does the material affect concrete?
- How does the material make concrete a sensor?
- What is electric resistance? Dr. Chung tested smart concrete in her lab by compressing it. As smart concrete is compressed, what happens to its electric resistance?
- Besides monitoring its own weakness, what are some other possible applications of smart concrete?
- Why is Dr. Chung a role model for women in science?