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August 8th, 2007
Nanotechnology, chemistry and engineering come together in Blake Branson's work at the Interdisciplinary Program for Research and Education in the Nanosciences project at Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities.
Branson has patented a new process for creation of composite materials that are hard, strong and relatively lightweight. The process uses chemistry to disperse nanoscale diamond particles into various plastics. The exceptionally hard and stiff diamond particles enhance the material properties of the plastics. Mechanical tests have shown the new material to have increased tensile strength and stiffness as well as increased hardness even when the diamond particles make up only a small fraction of the composite material's weight.
Possible applications for the process include the manufacture of improved safety goggles and panels in armored vehicles. Not only can more protection be provided without adding additional weight, but the use of nano-diamond is potentially much more economical than other nano-carbon fillers such as carbon nanotubes.
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