Nanotechnology Future and Present in Construction Industry: Applications in Geotechnical Engineering

Nanotechnology Future and Present in Construction Industry: Applications in Geotechnical Engineering

Umair Hasan (Curtin University of Technology, Australia), Amin Chegenizadeh (Curtin University, Australia) and Hamid Nikraz (Curtin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0344-6.ch005


After the introduction of nanotechnology, it has been widely researched in geotechnical engineering field. This chapter aims to study these advancements with specific focus on geotechnical applications. In-situ probing of soil and rock masses through nanomaterials may help in providing better safeguards against natural hazards. The molecular dynamics and finite element methods may also be used for the modelling of the nanostructures to better understand the material behavior, causing a bottom-up approach from nano to macroscopic simulations. Nanoclays, nano-metallic oxides and fibers (carbon nanotubes) can enhance the mechanical characteristics of weak, reactive and soft soils. Nanomaterials may also be used for improving the performance of reinforced concrete pavements by enhancing the thermal, mechanical and electrical characteristics of the concrete mixes. The chapter presents a review of the current researches and practices in the nano-probing, nanoscale modelling and application of nanomaterials for soil, pavement concrete mortar and subgrade stabilization.
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The recent advancements in microscopic sciences have enabled us to understand the behavior of materials on a nano scale. These new discoveries on the nanomaterial have yielded the development of the revolutionizing field of nanotechnology. Nanomaterial is a crystalline or non-crystalline material that has a size in the nanometer scale ranging from 1 nm to 100 nm. This technology has been attracting attention as due to the nano size, the manipulation of material properties can be more profitable and can be used to produce templates or models useful for the large scale applications. According to Hull et al. (2014), these advancements and understanding on the nanoscale have redefined human achievements in the fields of mechanization, medicine and engineering.

In essence, by carefully understanding the quantum effects which dictate the material behavior at the nanoscale and engineering the nanoparticles materials; we can basically control the size, shape, and the morphology; as well as the arrangement of materials on the nanometer level which in turns determines the characteristics of the synthesized nanoparticles. The reason behind the controlling influence of quantum effects on the nanometer scale is that the material dimensions are analogous to quanta of energy that produce fundamental excitations in materials. These phenomena are responsible for the transformation of material properties (Picraux, 2014). The fact that the characteristics of the material can be changed after converting to nanomaterial is governed by two principles. Firstly, the nanomaterials have a surface area greater than the parent material. This can increase the chemical reactivity and increase the strength of the electronic properties. Secondly, the quantum effects of nanoscale materials are dominated mainly on the effect of optical and magnetic properties of the material.

The chapter is focused on applications of nanotechnology in geotechnical engineering. The following sections are designed to address the issue appropriately.

  • Investigation of nano-sensors for soil characterisation.

  • Consideration of empirical relations as part of nanotechnology impact to predict the behaviour of soil and rock.

  • Applications of nanotechnology for geotechnical applications such as soil stabilisation and pavement engineering.

  • Future applications of nanotechnology in geotechnical engineering.

The structure of this chapter has also been illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Structure of the chapter



The smaller size of the nanomaterials, i.e., having dimensions less than 100nm. The nanomaterials can be either naturally existing or may be the result of human activities. The naturally occurring nanomaterials include materials formed as a result of climatic or environmental factors like lunar and volcanic dusts, minerals, magnetotactic bacteria or MTB. The nanomaterials that are available through human interventions or actions are further categorized into two classes; incidental and engineered nanomaterials. The products of industrial activities like fumes from burning or consumption of fossil fuels and welding activities are called the incidental nanoparticles such as the anthropogenic materials. Due to the origin of the natural and the accidental nanomaterials, they have different types of shapes which may range from largely irregular to partially regular shapes. On the other hand the nanomaterials that are manufactured in the laboratories mostly have regular shapes like spherical, circular or ring-shape and tubes etc. (A. P. Kumar, Depan, Singh Tomer, & Singh, 2009).

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