Building Material | Light Emitting Cement

Over the past ten years the development of intelligent construction models, closely tied to energy efficiency, has introduced new materials that have one or more properties modified, in a controlled and partial way, by external stimuli such as radiation, temperature, pH, humidity, wind, and other environmental factors.



Jose Carlos Rubio Avalos, a researcher at Michoacan University of San Nicolas de Hidalgo in Mexico, and his team have designed a new type of phosphorescent cement that could illuminate highways, bike paths or buildings without using electricity.

How does it work

Phosphorescent materials absorb energy from radiation such as the ultraviolet light emitted by the sun or by lamps in case of indoor. later the energy is emitted as light, which can be seen after dark.

Even on cloudy days the cement will be able to absorb enough energy to glow during dark periods for up to 12 hours.

According to Carmen Andrade, researcher at the Spanish National Research Council Institute of Building Sciences in Madrid,

“It’s an application that can be worth developing in countries and areas with poor access to electricity in communities with poor life levels, as it doesn’t consume electricity.”

But she also added

“cement is a very alkaline material, so the stability of these compounds should be studiedand also how to repair it.”

This cement will provide greater functionality and versatility to concrete in regards to energy efficiency.


The new smart material developed by Rubio Avalos was released on October 20, 2015, in an official press release by the AgenciaInformativaConacyt. The researcher claimed that the applications are very broad, and those which stand out most are for the architectural market:


swimming pools



parking lotsetc.

It would also be useful in road safety and road signs, in the energy sector, such as oil platforms, and anywhere you want to illuminate or mark spaces that don’t have access to electricity since it doesn’t require an electrical distribution system and is recharged only with light. The durability of light-emitting cement is estimated to be greater than 100 years thanks to its inorganic nature, and its material components are easily recyclable.


How it is made

The essential feature of this new material is obtained by a process of polycondensation of raw materials (silica, river sand, industrial waste, alkali, and water). This processis performed at room temperature and doesn’t require high energy consumption. The pollution produced in manufacturing is low compared to other types of cement such as Portland or synthetic plastics.

We want light to penetrate the material up to a certain level. In the case of conventional cement, Portland, doesn’t have that capability because when the light reaches its surface it can’t penetrate it,  Ávalos explained.

Also Charging the material using natural or artificial light, it hopes to offer new light and thermal functions to the most used construction element in the world in order to reduce the energy consumption generated by current light and thermal systems.



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