One of the pressing challenges of the 21st century is how to construct our build environment sustainably. This proposed project aims to develop Nacrecrete—A Nacre inspired high-performance resource-efficient concrete. Nacrecrete will be realized via the cross-pollination of biologically inspired materials synthesis strategies with advanced three-dimensional (3D)-printing, and the partnership of groups at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland and the Delft University of Technology (TUD), the Netherlands. This cross-pollination will see a cementitious-polymer composite printed whereby the polymer phase will mechano-chemically modulate the cementitious phases at the nano–microscale and printing will allow control over the composite’s architecture at the macroscale, resulting in a hierarchically structured, super strong and tough, resource-efficient, sustainable, concrete. The Nacrecrete project will open up a whole new field of research and promises new and exciting sustainable building and construction potentialities.
In preparation for independent research after the project, the applicant will build new scientific knowledge and skills in the synthesis of polymer/inorganic composites, the printing of polymeric materials and advanced materials characterisation, and transferable skills including leadership, mentoring, teaching and grant writing and exploitation. This new knowledge and skills coupled with the development of a new and exciting research field will be a firm step on the way to the applicant heading his own research group working on the development of ‘Bio-inspired building and construction materials’ at a top European university.