A new wallpaper may be able to detect fires, reports James Holloway for New Atlas. Researchers at the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have come up with a “fire alarm wallpaper” which can both detect a house fire and sound an alarm. It can even help to restrict the spread of fire.
The material is made from hydroxyapatite, and the fire-detecting properties are in the wallpaper’s ink-based graphene oxide.
Graphene oxide is a thermosensitive material in that it’s an electrical insulator at normal temperatures but conducts electricity when heated. This means it can be used to trigger an alarm in the presence of heat, making it potentially useful in the detection of fires. It comes with certain challenges, though.
For one, the sensors initially lasted only 3 seconds, though by modifying them with polydopamine, the team upped this to more than 5 minutes. This would still need to be increased significantly for real world use, unless used alongside conventional fire detection. The researchers say the sensors respond to the heat from fire in about 2 seconds, and can be protected from direct fire damage by being placed on the back of the wallpaper.
Though hydroxyapatite is usually brittle, the team has already established that it can be formed into long thin threads, making it suitable for wallpaper production. It can be processed into various shapes, dyed with different colors, and printed with a commercial printer.