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Thermo-Bimetals in Action

Commonly used in thermostats, these alloys, made of metals with different thermal coefficients, change shape with temperature. Doris Kim Sung investigates their architectural applications.

By Sara Hart
January 2013
Courtesy DOSU Studio A
A computer rendering shows an innovative structural surface becoming a complex shape.

“Why is architecture static and nonresponsive, and not more flexible,” asks Doris Kim Sung, who teaches in the USC School of Architecture. Sung challenges the notion that buildings ought to be rigid and climate-controlled. Rather, they should be able to adapt to their environment through self-ventilation.

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She is working on ways to integrate thermo-bimetals into standard building components and developing a glass panel with a layer of thermo-bimetals. The material curls when heated and blocks the sun's rays. She's also working on bricks with tiny thermo-bimetal vents to let the breeze through, inspired by biological systems like insect spiracle and trachea systems.

Click through the slideshow for details.



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