Home > Press > Mighty Nanofibers Could Mean Stronger, Lighter Materials
Bigger may be better, but tinier is stronger. So say scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who have shown that tiny polymer nanofibers become much stronger when their diameters shrink below a certain size. Their research could make possible stronger fabrics that use less material.
Mighty Nanofibers Could Mean Stronger, Lighter Materials
New York & Israel | Posted on January 31st, 2007
Bigger may be better, but tinier is stronger. So say scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who have shown that tiny polymer nanofibers become much stronger when their diameters shrink below a certain size. Their research, published in the January issue of Nature Nanotechnology, could make possible stronger fabrics that use less material.
Professor Eyal Zussman and Dr. Oleg Gendelman of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering are the first to propose an explanation for this surprising behavior in very thin fibers.
When the researchers measured the mechanical properties of nylon nanofibers, they found the critical diameter - the diameter at which the nylon nanofiber abruptly becomes stiffer—to be approximately 500 nanometers (about as thick as a spider web strand, or 100 times thinner than a human hair). They explained the abrupt increase in stiffness by considering the molecular structure inside the polymer fiber.
According to Zussman, each polymer nanofiber is made up of countless large, complex molecules called macromolecules. Macromolecules try to align themselves when the fiber is forming, but since they are so long and tangled, it is impossible for them to sort themselves out and align uniformly throughout the entire nanofiber. As a result, the nanofiber is a patchwork of differently oriented macromolecule regions. The researchers calculated the size of these regions to be roughly the same as the critical diameter of the nanofiber (the diameter at which the fiber stiffness abruptly increases).
"When the diameter of the fiber is much larger than the size of the oriented regions, the macromolecules can move relative to one another," says Zussman. "But as the diameter of the fiber shrinks, these oriented regions become constrained and the macromolecules are unable to easily move relative to one another. So they become stuck against each other like cars in a traffic jam, and the resulting nanofiber is much stiffer."
Although Professor Zussman and his colleagues focused on a certain type of nanofiber, they say their basic physical idea will help scientists understand the novel physical properties of a wide range of nanofibers and other nanostructures. Practical applications include lighter protective vests and stronger fabrics.
Also participating in the research, which is part of activities of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion, were Dr. Arkadii Arinstein and graduate student Michael Burman.
About American Technion Society
Based in New York City, the American Technion Society is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel, with 17 offices around the country.
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel's leading science and technology university. Home to the country’s winners of the Nobel Prize in science, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel's high-tech companies are alumni.
For more information, please click here
Copyright © Newswise
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
Artificial Forest for Solar Water-Splitting: Berkeley Lab Researchers Report First Fully Integrated Artificial Photosynthesis Nanosystem May 17th, 2013
Moth-Inspired Nanostructures Take the Color Out of Thin Films May 17th, 2013
NIA Public Briefing: Nanotechnology and the Council of Europe May 17th, 2013
Scientists capture first direct proof of Hofstadter butterfly effect May 17th, 2013
Using clay to grow bone: Researchers use synthetic silicate to stimulate stem cells into bone cells May 15th, 2013
Flawed Diamonds Promise Sensory Perfection: Berkeley Lab researchers and their colleagues extend electron spin in diamond for incredibly tiny magnetic detectors May 10th, 2013
Researcher Construct Invisibility Cloak for Thermal Flow: Copper-Silicon Plate Deflects Heat / Optical Process Transferred to Thermodynamics / Basis for Future Heat Management in Microchips and Components May 8th, 2013
Improved material for ‘laser welding’ of tissue in intestinal surgery May 8th, 2013
Nanoadsorbent Synthesized to Remove Toxic Dyes from Textile Industry Wastewater May 16th, 2013
Miller Sports Aspen Brings European Fashion to Aspen With Designer Ski Wear with Goldwin and Toni Sailer May 3rd, 2013
Revolutionary new device joins world of smart electronics: Unique properties of graphene and graph Exeter combine to create a new flexible, transparent, photosensitive device April 19th, 2013
Peratech working on "Nose in clothes" and touch technology for wearable electronics: QTC sensors in clothes can monitor vital signs for illness and warn of exposure to dangerous chemicals March 18th, 2013
Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree: A nano end for Christmas tree needles January 2nd, 2013
INIC Inks MoU to Apply Nanotechnology in Iran's Carpet Industry December 18th, 2012
IBN Welcomes Its First 9-Year-Old ‘Scientist’: IBN and Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore Make Kidney Patient’s Dream Come True December 10th, 2012
The music of the silks: Researchers synthesize a new kind of silk fiber — and find that music can help fine-tune the material’s properties November 28th, 2012