Nanotechnology In Architecture

Nenotech-Mega revolution

The biggest ideas in architecture today are coming out of the science of the small. Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the molecular scale, promises to transform architecture in ways we can hardly imagine today. The nanotech revolution can bring dramatic improvements in building performance, energy efficiency and sustainability to building projects..

Architectural applications

Nanotechnology, the ability to manipulate matter at the scale of less than one billionth of a meter, has the potential to transform the built environment in ways almost unimaginable today. Nanotechnology is already employed in the manufacture of everyday items from sunscreen to clothing, and its introduction to architecture is not far behind. On the near horizon, it may take building enclosure materials (coatings, panels and insulation) to dramatic new levels of performance in terms of energy, light, security and intelligence. Even these first steps into the world of nanotechnology could dramatically alter the nature of building enclosure and the way our buildings relate to environment and user. At mid-horizon, the development of carbon nanotubes and other breakthrough materials could radically alter building design and performance. The entire distinction between structure and skin, for example, could disappear as ultralight, super-strong materials functioning as both structural skeleton and enclosing skin are developed.



The Nanohouse Initiative is a collaboration between the best of Australia's scientists, engineers, architects, designers and builders - working together to design and build a new type of ultra-energy efficient house and exploiting the new materials being developed by nanotechnology. New materials are being discovered and developed everyday as a result of the knowledge of how to achieve molecular and atomic precision in engineering of materials. These new materials present new opportunities to solve problems.
Coordination: Carl Masens
Architecture: James Muir
Design: Douglas Tomkin
Energy: Joe Zhu

Carbon Tower


The Initiative is led by University of Technology, Sydney through its Institute for Nanoscale Technology, jointly with Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization.
The Carbon Tower Prototype is a 40-story mixed-use high-rise that incorporates five innovative systems: pre-compressed double-helix primary structure, tensile-laminated composite floors, two external filament-bound ramps, breathable thin-film membrane, and vritual duct displacement ventilation. Studies conducted by Arup suggest that, if built, the tower would the lightest and strongest building of its type.

Architects: Peter Testa and Devyn Weiser

Firm: Peter Testa Architects

"The complexity of contemporary buildings is an enormous achievement, but we need to question how we came to the point of building with such complexity. We believe we need to rethink how we assemble buildings." Peter Testa

Aeglis Hyposurface


This interactive, dynamically reconfigurable 3D screen reacts in real time to surrounding motion and sound, transforming Hyposurface’s complex topography and colors. This project, which dECOi continues to research at MIT’s Media Lab, foreshadows fully kinetic and environmentally responsive architectural surfaces, sensitized to changes in climate or security needs.

Architect: Mark Goulthorpe
Firm: dECOi

Building Materials

Nanoprotact Glass


Nanoprotect Glass is a special nanotechnology product, manufactured by Nanotec, with a long term self cleaning effect for glass and ceramic surfaces.

The NANO-particles adhere directly to the material molecule and allow the surface to deflect any dirt and water.

Key Benefits:
Weather protection
UV - weather-resistant
Prevents fungus growth
Easy to clean- Self cleaning effect

Nanoprotect CS


NANOPROTECT CS is a water-based solution with a very high penetration depth for concrete materials. The NANO-particles adhere directly to the material molecule and allow the surface to deflect any dirt and water. The NANO - hydrophobic treatment is long lasting and can only be removed by damaging the surface.

Key Benefits:

Easy to clean/Self cleaning
Highly stain resistant
Weather protection



Nano-protex is a water-based NANO impregnation with very high penetration depth for textile. The product is repellent to water and the adherence of foreign matter to the surface is decreased. The Nano-particles adhere directly to the substrate molecules, deflecting any foreign matter.

Key Benefits:
Weather protection
UV - weather-resistant
Easy to clean- Self cleaning effect

insuladd paints


The complex blend of microscopic hollow ceramic spheres that makes up INSULADD® have a vacuum inside like mini-thermos bottles. While the use of INSULADD® on interior walls is extremely beneficial, its use on exterior walls is even more dramatically effective since it blocks the extreme heat of the sun. INSULADD® ceramic-filled paint on interior walls looks like ordinary flat wall paint.

The ceramic materials have unique energy savings properties that reflect heat while dissipating it. The hollow ceramic microspheres reflective quality affects the warming phenomenon called "Mean Radiant Temperature," where heat waves from a source such as direct sunlight cause a person to feel warmer even though the actual air temperature is no different between a shady and sunny location. It is the molecular friction within the skin caused by the sun's radiant energy waves which makes the body feel warmer.
The ceramic particles in INSULADD® create a thermal barrier. These particles refract, reflect, and dissipate heat.

energy coating


Similar to the way a plant absorbs sunlight and turns it into chemical energy to fuel the growth of a plant, energy coatings absorb sunlight and indoor light and convert them into electrical energy.
Energy coatings are produced by working on the nano scale by injecting a dye into titanium dioxide, a white pigment commonly used in toothpaste and paint. The dye, applied to a flexible material, absorbs energy from both the sun and indoor light. This light energy travels through the titanium dioxide and a series of electrodes and is converted into electrical energy.

Konarka, the major producer of energy coatings, develops and manufactures power plastic that is inexpensive, lightweight, flexible and versatile. The light-activated power plastic film can be embedded within devices, systems and structures. Since the manufacturing process uses the printing technology, the film can be produced in any color and transparency. The film can be applied to structural systems, windows, roofs, glass and effectively produce energy.

heat absorbing windows


Heat absorbing windows, manufactured by Vanceva, offer solar performance superior to that of previously available laminating systems. Alone, or when combined with solar management glass, this new glazing interlayer provides the architectural marketplace with new, cost effective options to control heat and energy loads in buildings.
By selectively reducing the transmittance of solar energy relative to visible light, these solar performance interlayers produce glazing systems that can result in savings in the capital cost of energy control equipment as well as operating costs of climate control equipment.


• Energy efficiency
Keeps solar heat out of a building while maintaining optimal visible light transmission, facilitating lower capital expenditures on energy control equipment and lower operating costs of equipment

• Safety and security
When subjected to accidental impact, the glass and solar interlayer combine to absorb the force of the impact. Should the force be sufficient to break the glass, the resulting fragments tend to remain adhered to the solar interlayer.

• Ultraviolet protection
The solar interlayer blocks up to 99% of the sun's UV rays while allowing the important visible light to pass through.

• Design versatility
Architectural laminated glass, made with solar interlayer, can be used in curtain walls, windows, doors, skylights, shop fronts, and virtually any other application imaginable.

All-Terrain Fluids


Canadian chemists have developed an all-terrain droplet actuation (ATDA) method to move droplets across chips at a wide range of angles. Aaron Wheeler and colleagues at the University of Toronto say digital microfluidic devices using ATDA could be used to move fluids rapidly between different environments, for example to cycle between heating and cooling.

Wheeler developed ATDA on flexible, water-repellent polyimide surfaces, clad with copper, which can be bent into a variety of shapes including steps, twists and overhangs. The fluid beads are moved by sequentially activating a series of electrode pairs, which is thought to pull the droplet forward by reducing water repellence in front of the droplet. This process gives the team full control of the droplet, including up and down vertical surfaces.

To sustain the droplet, a 50 nm thick hydrophobic layer was deposited by spin-coating poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) (6000 rpm, 1 min) and Teflon-AF1600 (1% resin in Fluorinert FC-40, 2000 rpm, 1 min) on flexible PCB substrates.

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