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New 'Fire Alarm Wallpaper' Could Save Your Life

Mental Floss logo Mental Floss 17/5/2018 Emily Petsko

Smoke detector batteries can die without you even realizing it, so it helps to have some backup protection in place. Chinese researchers are aiming to make homes safer with their newly developed “fire alarm wallpaper," which scientists say could be mass produced to help save lives.

Here’s how it works: When an ink-based thermosensitive sensor on the back of the wallpaper detects a high degree of heat, the paper is “transformed from an electrically insulating state into an electrically conductive one,” phys.org explains. This then triggers an alarm, which emits a high-pitched whistling noise and warning lights for about five minutes.

a close up of an insect: New 'Fire Alarm Wallpaper' Could Save Your Life © iStock New 'Fire Alarm Wallpaper' Could Save Your Life

Not only can it alert residents to the presence of a fire within two seconds, it can also prevent the blaze from spreading. Unlike most wallpaper available for purchase, this new material is nonflammable and can withstand high temperatures. It’s made from hydroxyapatite, an inorganic material found in bones and teeth.

Researchers hope to expand production of the wallpaper at a low cost while also looking into other potential uses for the material. These could include “preserving important paper documents, energy, air purification, water treatment, environment protection, anti-counterfeiting, flexible electronics, and biomedical uses,” lead researcher Ying-Jie Zhu, a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, tells phys.org. Their findings were published in journal ACS Nano.

Check out the video below to see it in action.

[h/t phys.org]

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