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Adaptive, sensory building skins

Product or process
A multidisciplinary team will study multiscalar architectures of human cells and translate these findings into algorithms for generating patterned, adaptive materials. These materials will also be interlaced with sensors and feedback mechanisms. The ultimate goal is to generate a building skin that can adapt to its environmental conditions in order to become more energy efficient, not to mention more effective for occupants.
Challenges solved
Non-optimized building skins, inability of buildings to adapt to changing external environments.
Differences from existing products
Buildings are traditionally static structures; at best they have a limited ability to sense their surrounding environmental conditions and adapt to them. This research thrust aims at fundamentally changing that limitation. A truly interdisciplinary team of biologists, architects, and engineers will attempt to bring building skins into a new era of sophistication.
The biomimicry story
The flexibility and sensory-adaptivity of human cells will be studied biologically in order to develop materials and architectures that will enable adaptive building skins. Researchers that specialize in studying cancer cell motility and cytoskeleta will tease out the fundamental characteristics of cell epithelial adaptation. Designers will generate algorithms to model these changes in real-time. These algorithms will then enable engineers to craft patterned 3-D materials with integrated sensors and feedback controls. Energy-optimization and improved performance is the ultimate goal.

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About the Product

Company: PennDesign (Sabin + Lucia), UPenn School of Medicine (Jones Lab), Penn Engineering & Applied Sciences (Yang, Engheta, Van der Spiegel)

Product Phase: Under development

Product Type: Future adaptive building skins and sensors