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From left, columns built of cement-polyvinyl fiber, fiberglass, carbon fiber and nitinol.

Samples of cement-polyvinyl fiber mixture; fiberglass column; carbon fiber column; nickel titanium


Traditional bridge columns are constructed from concrete and reinforced steel, which are seldom effective against earthquakes. But new research suggests that replacing concrete and steel with smart materials is a good alternative. From left: cement-polyvinyl fiber mixture; fiberglass column; carbon fiber column; nickel titanium shape memory alloy, or nitinol.

Credit: Dr. M. Saiid Saiidi, NEES@University of Nevada, Reno

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Related story: Strong, elastic "smart materials" aid design of earthquake-resistant bridges