Nanofiber Breakthrough Creates Supertough, Strong Material

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Nanofiber Breakthrough Creates Supertough, Strong Material

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The new fibers could be used in anything from bridges to airplanes.

A team of materials engineers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed a structural nanofiber that is strong and tough - a rare find. Most structural materials have to choose between strength or toughness - it's the difference between wood and rubber. There are very few materials acknowledged to be tough and strong, but by making the nanofiber thinner than any before, it become stronger - as expected. The surprise came when the fiber was also tougher than before. "Our discovery adds a new material class to the very select current family of materials with demonstrated simultaneously high strength and toughness," said Yuris Dzenis, the team's leader. Dzenis said he belived the nanofibers could have applications in many fields, from bicycles to bulletproof vests. "If structural materials were thougher, one could make products more lightweight and still be very safe," he said.

The fiber is a polyacrilonitrile nanofiber, meaning it's a synthetic polymer related to acrylics. These nanofibers were made using a process called electrospinning, in which a high voltage is applied to the polymer solution until a continuous jet of liquid ejects - giving a length of nanofiber. The simultaneous toughness and strength of the material will allow lighter objects because, traditionally, engineers use more of a strong material to make up for its relative lack of toughness. Dzenis thinks that the new nanofibers' surprising toughness comes from their low crystallinity - because the material is less organized on the molecular level, it can therefore absorb more energy. The findings will be published in the April issue of the journal ACS Nano.

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Similarly, you used to have to sacrifice entertainment for information, but not so anymore! Our science show, Geekend Update, is released every Saturday.

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Yay, shameless plug at the end :P

But on a more serious note... This actually seems really cool... could they make it into a cloth? If so that could be great for the military, having bullet proof sleeves and pants, and not just something that will protect the torso. Fingers crossed on that front...

Ah, material engineering, they've made a lot of good discoveries lately.

And I don't wanna complain but that big video under each article is really a bit annoying, wouldn't it suffice to just link to it? Alright, I guess that was a complaint. My bad.

Every day I regret not buckling down in school and studying for a job in this field of Nanomaterials. Hindsight is a bitch.

Excellent!

Now, we can have Spider-Man, Batman, Roger Smith, and who knows who else? We need people like this using technology like that!

Would be three times stronger if only they were allowed to use hemp :P

Bitchin'.
It'd be cool to see a bridge woven entirely from such thread.
Or a superhero costume that's actually pretty tough.

Come on, spaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevator.

Also: Nothing wrong with the Geekend Update plug. It's a good show.

I can't help but be cynical about most scientific breakthroughs. The difference between creating microscopic quantities of something in a lab and employing the material in construction is at least a decade of production engineering, safety testing, standard setting, manufacturing contracts, environmental compliance, etc. And any step could be the death of it. I mean WHAT IF IT SMELLS BAD!?

Yay ACS NANO!
Yay nanofibers!
Yay science!
Yay saying yay about things!
Boo electrospinning

This breakthrough fills my heart with great joy. Now an important question. Does it come in black?

Just imagine the many uses of this thing....... is it safe for our flesh?

I wonder how they're gonna reproduce it, in factory quantities that is, no doubt there is gonna be a lot of tests on this material before it gets the greenlight.

I guess you could say it can augment our structures. A real human revolution if you ask me.

Welp, that joke sucked. At least I beat Adam Jensen to it.

The:
I guess you could say it can augment our structures. A real human revolution if you ask me.

Welp, that joke sucked. At least I beat Adam Jensen to it.

I'm sure he'll mention that he didn't ask for this.

They should make a condom out of it.

...
What?

If they could mass-produce this we could potentially see it used for a fully functional (sans flight) Iron Man suit (The first versions would probably be closer to the Iron Monger in size due to the need to power it!). If that fails then there is always space elevator! Who needs carbon nanotubes with nanofibers!

VincentX3:
They should make a condom out of it.
...
What?

Small penis is small? Or should that be nano-penis is nano?

Also, Captcha is being mean to you, VincentX3.

Captcha: "fill it up"

VincentX3:
They should make a condom out of it.

...
What?

OT: yayy, something good finally coming from unl for once, and it is engineering, woohoo! *snickers*

Space elevator, anyone?

We are so close to a world with widespread graphene, so close.

I'm really looking forward to the future. We should live a lot longer. Not just in slowing the aging process, but death by environmental means. Imagine a day where you can let you children go play outside wherever safely, because they're wearing a graphene suit?

Days like that are upon us, I believe. I'm looking forward to jumping off of a cliff of the grand canyon with no parachute and landing safely.

The real question: Is it even half as strong as the strongest spider silk?

We are that much close to carbon-fibre nanotubes and therefore closer to cyborg ninjas.

Formica Archonis:
Come on, spaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevator.

Right!

All they've been missing is a light, strong enough, and tough enough material and we could have (relatively) effortless liftoff capability. If this stuff is tough enough... a working skyhook changes everything.

I am thinking one thing. Metal Gear Rising IRL

"in which a high voltage is applied [...] until a continuous jet of liquid ejects" ... context is everything

OT: very cool, I hope we can see this soon applied and maybe move away from environmentally dangerous pratices like aluminium mining and maybe make the wasteful process of unibody design less attractive to manufacturers.

Am I the only person who craved some of these after seeing the image on this article?

OT: Seems pretty cool. I wonder how much it costs to manufacture though?

OK. What's the max amount of force it can withstand? Rough estimates?

MorganL4:
Yay, shameless plug at the end :P

But on a more serious note... This actually seems really cool... could they make it into a cloth? If so that could be great for the military, having bullet proof sleeves and pants, and not just something that will protect the torso. Fingers crossed on that front...

The problem with that idea is that even if a bullet can't pass through something, it still imparts a huge amount of force on impact. There are already soft body armors that exist, but while they're very good at stopping bullets, they aren't very good at protecting people from the blunt force from the bullet, because when the bullet hits the soft surface most of the bullet's energy is absorbed in a very small area of the vest, and therefore still goes directly into the body, very often causing broken bones and internal bleeding. That's why when people wear soft body armor they almost always wear what's known as a "trauma plate" (which is a rectangular plate made of metal or ceramic) over the soft body armor, in order to reduce the blunt force trauma caused by the bullet hitting their body armor.

So if you imagine bullet proof clothing made out of nanofibers, people would still be heavily injured by the bullets. Sure, the bullets wouldn't actually enter the person's body, but all of the force of the bullet would still be imparted to that body causing heavy blunt force trauma, breaking bones and causing internal bleeding. To have effective body armor you need the bullet to hit a hard surface to more evenly distribute the force.

Basically the use of these kinds of nano-fibers in creating body armor wouldn't be creating body armor that has more coverage, but rather creating body armor that is lighter and easier to move in.

Formica Archonis:
Come on, spaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevator.

Also: Nothing wrong with the Geekend Update plug. It's a good show.

Sol_HSA:
Space elevator, anyone?

Kyrian007:

Formica Archonis:
Come on, spaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevatorspaceelevator.

Right!

All they've been missing is a light, strong enough, and tough enough material and we could have (relatively) effortless liftoff capability. If this stuff is tough enough... a working skyhook changes everything.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who immediately jumped to this at the very mention of a super strong super tough nano-material.

Heh...

As I saw commented on a recent story about nanowire-equipped solar cells (supposedly) doing a similar thing for the renewable energy scene... "take a word, add 'nano' to it, bask in the ensuing nerd-love and rake in the VC cash, even though it might not actually offer any benefit at all..."

As per GeneralBob - yeah... that's pretty cool, especially the electrojaculation or whatever they actually called it. But call me when they finally find a practical use for the stuff. Otherwise it may as well just be more buckyballs / carbon nanotubes. The former have been around for the better part of a half century and still aren't used for anything even vaguely mainstream (or money-spinning, which can be about as important; if a thing isn't making money for *someone*, chances are it's not actually that widely useful regardless of how "revolutionary" it may be in research terms).

Was hoping to read that NASA figured out a way to cheaply mass produce Carbon Nantube so we can finally have that space elevator they've been dreaming of for two decades.

Should've known better.

GeneralBob:
I can't help but be cynical about most scientific breakthroughs. The difference between creating microscopic quantities of something in a lab and employing the material in construction is at least a decade of production engineering, safety testing, standard setting, manufacturing contracts, environmental compliance, etc. And any step could be the death of it. I mean WHAT IF IT SMELLS BAD!?

So because something doesn't have practical applications right now we should abandon it and consider it a waste that we ever made it? By that logic we wouldn't even have iron except for what we've collected from meteors. Lots of these discoveries wont ever see a practical use, but imagine if we were cynical about silicon, the purification process there is really quite complex. We might just as well have skipped aluminium since that's a complex process and there's a lot of pollution.

Learning new methods can be as important as the product itself.

So in a few years time, when someone asks how all this stuff works, we will have an excuse to say

Science, I love ya baby.

Very interesting. An innovation in construction material might seem trivial on the onset but it is on their foundation that civilization rests. Now if they can only make something like this be extremely light we can really change everything.

GeneralBob:
I can't help but be cynical about most scientific breakthroughs. The difference between creating microscopic quantities of something in a lab and employing the material in construction is at least a decade of production engineering, safety testing, standard setting, manufacturing contracts, environmental compliance, etc. And any step could be the death of it. I mean WHAT IF IT SMELLS BAD!?

Asbestos.

Lunar elevator anyone?
.
.
.
Someone???
.
.
.
Not a single person? O well time to crawl back to my corner and dream about such megaconstructions in solitude :(

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