Translucent concrete

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Material analysis

MasterFormat Number: 03 37 00


  • It is a combination of fiber optics and fine concrete. It can be produced as prefabricated building blocks and panels. Due to the small size of the fibers, they blend into concrete becoming a component of the material like small pieces of aggregate. The glass fibers lead light by points between the two sides of the blocks. Because of their parallel position, the light-information on the brighter side of such a wall appears unchanged on the darker side. The most interesting form of this phenomenon is probably the sharp display of shadows on the opposing side of the wall. Moreover, the color of the light also remains the same. Thousands of optical glass fibers form a matrix and run parallel to each other between the two main surfaces of each block. The proportion of the fibers is very small (4%) compared to the total volume of the blocks. Moreover, these fibers mingle in the concrete because of their insignificant size, and they become a structural component as a kind of modest aggregate. Therefore, the surface of the blocks remains homogeneous concrete.

Traditional uses

  • Translucent blocks suitable for floors, pavements and load-bearing walls
  • Facades, interior wall cladding and dividing walls based on thin panels. [1]

Emerging uses / trends

  • Partitions
  • Furniture
  • Light fixtures
  • Light sidewalks at night
  • Increasing visibility in dark subway stations
  • Lighting indoor fire escapes in the event of a power failure
  • Illuminating speed bumps on roadways at night

Finish and aesthetic qualities

  • Colour: grey, black or white
  • Fiber distribution: organic
  • Finish: polished
  • Custom-made products (different block sizes, thickness, color) also available

Surfaces: grinded, blasted, brushes, scorched

Surface forms / shapes

  • Prefabricated Blocks

Cost analysis

  • 25mm thickness - $1000/m2 (Litracon)

Material properties

Primary structural use

  • Can be used for floors or load bearing walls

Material performance

  • Concrete embedded with optical glass fibers running in a matrix while still retaining the strength of concrete.
  • High density top layer concrete
  • infused with optical fibers
  • frost and de-icing salt resistant
  • fire protection classification A2
  • highest UV resistance

Dimensional and opening restriction

  • Maximum block size: 600 x 300 mm
  • Standard block size: 600 x 300 mm
    • LUCEM Standard Block Size: 1200 mm x 600 mm, thickness 15mm and more
  • Thickness: 25 - 500 mm

Manufacturing process and assembly

  • Strands of optical fibers are cast by the thousands into concrete to transmit light, either natural or artificial, into all spaces surrounding the resulting translucent panels. Light-transmitting concrete is produced by adding 4% to 5% optical fibers (by volume) into the concrete mixture. The fibers run parallel to each other, transmitting light between two surfaces of the concrete element in which they are embedded. Thickness of the optical fibers can be varied between 2 µm and 2 mm to suit the particular requirements of light transmission.
  • Originally, the fiber filaments were placed individually in the concrete, making production time-consuming and costly. Newer, semi-automatic production processes use woven fiber fabric instead of single filaments. Fabric and concrete are alternately inserted into molds at intervals of approximately 2 mm to 5 mm. Smaller or thinner layers allow an increased amount of light to pass through the concrete. Following casting, the material is cut into panels or blocks of the specified thickness and the surface is then typically polished, resulting in finishes ranging from semi-gloss to high-gloss.
  • The concrete mixture is made from fine materials only: it contains no coarse aggregate. The compressive strength of greater than 70 MPa (over 10,000 psi) is comparable to that of high-strength concretes. [2]

Environmental impact

When a solid wall is imbued with the ability to transmit light, it means that a home can use fewer lights in their house during daylight hours. Since the insulating capacity of the wall is unchanged, the result is a net energy gain.


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Life Safety & Rating Standards

Flammability rating

  • fire protection classification A2




Student contributions

  • Brinda Toprani, Spring 2009

See also

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Building references

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