Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Seeing below the surface: Engineers devise a new way to inspect advanced materials used to build airplanes

Abstract:
In recent years, many airplane manufacturers have started building their planes from advanced composite materials, which consist of high-strength fibers, such as carbon or glass, embedded in a plastic or metal matrix. Such materials are stronger and more lightweight than aluminum, but they are also more difficult to inspect for damage, because their surfaces usually don't reveal underlying problems.

Seeing below the surface: Engineers devise a new way to inspect advanced materials used to build airplanes

Cambridge, MA | Posted on March 27th, 2011

"With aluminum, if you hit it, there's a dent there. With a composite, oftentimes if you hit it, there's no surface damage, even though there may be internal damage," says Brian L. Wardle, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

Wardle and his colleagues have devised a new way to detect that internal damage, using a simple handheld device and heat-sensitive camera. Their approach also requires engineering the composite materials to include carbon nanotubes, which generate the heat necessary for the test.

Their approach, described in the March 22 online edition of the journal Nanotechnology, could allow airlines to inspect their planes much more quickly, Wardle says. This project is part of a multiyear, aerospace-industry-funded effort to improve the mechanical properties of existing advanced aerospace-grade composites. The U.S. Air Force and Navy are also interested in the technology, and Wardle is working with them to develop it for use in their aircraft and vessels.

Uncovering damage

Advanced composite materials are commonly found not only in aircraft, but also cars, bridges and wind-turbine blades, Wardle says.

One method that inspectors now use to reveal damage in advanced composite materials is infrared thermography, which detects infrared radiation emitted when the surface is heated. In an advanced composite material, any cracks or delamination (separation of the layers that form the composite material) will redirect the flow of heat. That abnormal flow pattern can be seen with a heat-sensitive (thermographic) camera.

This is effective but cumbersome because it requires large heaters to be placed next to the surface, Wardle says. With his new approach, carbon nanotubes are incorporated into the composite material. When a small electric current is applied to the surface, the nanotubes heat up, which eliminates the need for any external heat source. The inspector can see the damage with a thermographic camera or goggles.

"It's a very clever way to utilize the properties of carbon nanotubes to deliver that thermal energy, from the inside out," says Douglas Adams, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. Adams, who was not involved in the research, notes that two fundamental challenges remain: developing a practical way to manufacture large quantities of the new material, and ensuring that the addition of nanotubes does not detract from the material's primary function of withstanding heavy loads.

The new carbon nanotube hybrid materials that Wardle is developing have so far shown better mechanical properties, such as strength and toughness, than existing advanced composites.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Anne Trafton
MIT News Office
617.253.2700

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Related News Press

News and information

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Nano-saturn: Supramolecular complex formation: Anthracene macrocycle and C60 fullerene June 8th, 2018

Unzipping graphene nanotubes into nanoribbons: New study shows elegant mathematical solution to understand how the flow of electrons changes when carbon nanotubes turn into zigzag nanoribbons June 6th, 2018

Making carbon nanotubes as usable as common plastics: Researchers discover that cresols disperse carbon nanotubes at unprecedentedly high concentrations May 15th, 2018

'Exceptional' research points way toward quantum discoveries: Rice University scientists make tunable light-matter couplings in nanotube films April 30th, 2018

Discoveries

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Materials/Metamaterials

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Making quantum puddles: Physicists discover how to create the thinnest liquid films ever June 13th, 2018

Nickel ferrite promotes capacity and cycle stability of lithium-sulfur battery June 13th, 2018

Evidence for a new property of quantum matter revealed: Electrical dipole activity detected in a quantum material unlike any other tested June 11th, 2018

Announcements

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Aerospace/Space

Disability Can Be a Superpower in Space Disabled astronauts offer unique solutions to emergencies in space May 17th, 2018

SpaceX Founding Employee Tom Mueller to Speak at International Space Development Conference May 15th, 2018

Shrimp, Soybeans, and Tomatoes Top the Menu in Cities in Space May 10th, 2018

National Space Society Applauds NASA's Support for Commercial Low Earth Orbit Space Stations May 2nd, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project