After the earthquakes in Japan last year there's been a strong focus on designing structures and systems that will survive a natural disaster. So German researchers have created super strong wallpaper and glue that will prevent brick structures from collapsing during a quake.

Brick and concrete are strong and cheap materials to build with, but their strength really only applies to vertical stresses. So a tall building is perfectly stable until an earthquake introduces horizontal movements and stresses causing it to collapse. To remedy this problem, researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology's Institute of Solid Construction and Construction Material Technology have developed an incredibly strong material made of woven glass fibers with elastic properties. So when applied as a wallpaper, it bends and stretches with the wall, holding it together.

But the researchers also had to develop a new ultra-flexible, yet equally strong, wallpaper paste composed of a soft adhesive and tiny polyurethane beads which bond to a concrete surface. When applied to the paper and thoroughly dried, the resulting material is nearly indestructible, holding a structure together during mother nature's worst tirades.

The paper doesn't prevent serious structural damage from occurring. There's a good chance a building could still be damaged to the point of needing to be demolished after an earthquake. But the new material will at least ensure it doesn't immediately collapse on people inside, which is the most important reason for its development. [Discovery News]