Sunday, January 09, 2011

The future comes closer . . .

Nano loom: Carbon-nanotube webs are pulled and twisted to make yarns. The four webs here are 5.5 centimeters wide.
Credit: Science/AAAS

MIT'S TECHNOLOGY REVIEW has an important report by Katherine Bourzac, "Spinning Nano Yarns", which highlights several important advances in nano-material fabrication. Up til now, nano-fibers have been laboratory exotics, "unobtainium" expensive. It seems there are going to be changes:

Many important technologies—from battery electrodes and superconducting wires to the catalysts in fuel cells—rely on materials containing powdered particles, which can be tricky to manage. Now, in a feat that could simplify the production of many such technologies and might point the way toward some radical new ones, researchers at the University of Texas have demonstrated a way to spin yarn out of nanotubes infused with useful powdered materials.

The researchers have used the method to make strips of yarn that function as a battery electrode, others with superconducting properties, and self-cleaning yarns.

Now, why should you care? The advent of nano-materials is going to be as revolutionary as the transistor and will affect every aspect of life in 2020 and beyond. How so? For starters, cars will weigh 50%, maybe even less than what they weigh now. Then there's medicine, electronics — you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

1 comment:

Polyorchnid Octopunch said...

This stuff does look amazing, I have to say. Nanotube yarn could even turn a space elevator into a doable project...