Article originally posted on www.curbed.com

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Today, wallpaper is merely decoration. But in the future it could function as a built-in fire detector and alarm. Researchers at Shanghai’s Institute of Ceramics are developing a new kind of wallpaper made from graphene oxide and hydroxyapatite nanowires that can detect fire and act as a retardant.

The researchers explain that while commercial wallpaper is highly flammable, both graphene oxide and hydroxyapatite nanowires are fire-resistant materials. Graphene, in particular, is useful since it’s electrically insulated at low temperatures but conductive at high temperatures. That allows it to act as a sort of sensor switch—when the heat rises above a certain temperature, it will close a circuit and activate an alarm.

Although the concept is still in the early research phase, the scientists say their smart fire alarm wallpaper could be dyed with colors and printed with a commercial printer, making it totally viable to (eventually) bring into your home.

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