While we always strive to publish the most cutting-edge technology, every November we focus a bit more “outside the box” with our Emerging Technologies issue. For example, an article from Fujian Huafeng New Material Co., Ltd. introduces photosensitive haptic coatings that can achieve gradual color change on athletic footwear, and could also be used for point-of-purchase individualization. We also feature an article on self-programming robots, which present a game-changing opportunity for high-mix coaters. Be sure to also read our Emerging Technology news section in this issue – it features a lot of potentially impactful research that may come to fruition in the future.

News on really interesting advancements comes across my desk on a regular basis. I recently received a press release about a coating that helps turn bricks into supercapacitors. Researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis have developed a coating to make or modify “smart bricks” that can store energy. A proof-of-concept published in Nature Communications shows a brick directly powering an LED light.

In this news announcement, Julio D’Arcy, Assistant Professor of chemistry, and colleagues, discuss how to convert red bricks into a type of energy storage device. “In this work, we have developed a coating of the conducting polymer PEDOT, which is comprised of nanofibers that penetrate the inner porous network of a brick; a polymer coating remains trapped in a brick and serves as an ion sponge that stores and conducts electricity,” D’Arcy said.

According to the report, the red pigment in bricks – iron oxide, or rust – is essential for triggering the polymerization reaction. The authors’ calculations suggest that walls made of these energy-storing bricks could store a substantial amount of energy.

“PEDOT-coated bricks are ideal building blocks that can provide power to emergency lighting,” D’Arcy said. “We envision that this could be a reality when you connect our bricks with solar cells – this could take 50 bricks in close proximity to the load. These 50 bricks would enable powering emergency lighting for five hours.”

I am always amazed by the R&D taking place in our industry. It is encouraging to see research moving forward. I hope you enjoy reading about all of the emerging technologies in this issue!