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Chemical and Process Engineering

Leeds scientists are using the principles of light to measure the strength of concrete, giving industry an understanding of when it could fracture.

In a new approach, a thin layer of ‘birefringent’ coating is applied to concrete beams. When the beam is loaded, its birefringent properties split light waves in different directions according to the stress in each area. The waves reflect back to a photonic camera which takes a picture showing where stress levels are most extreme. While the coating is not new, this is the first time it’s been used to assess the toughness of concrete against fractures. “This methodology could help assess the strength of a wide range of new composite materials in future,” says research lead Dr Joseph Antony.