(CNN) It's the world's most popular building material, and ever since the Romans built the pantheon from it some 2,000 years ago, we've been trying to find ways to make concrete more durable.
No matter how carefully it is mixed or reinforced, all concrete eventually cracks, and under some conditions, those cracks can lead to collapse.
"The problem with cracks in concrete is leakage," explains professor Henk Jonkers, of Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands.
Advertisement - story continues below
"If you have cracks, water comes through -- in your basements, in a parking garage. Secondly, if this water gets to the steel reinforcements -- in concrete we have all these steel rebars -- if they corrode, the structure collapses."