Microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, are small devices with huge potential. Typically made of components less than 100 microns in size — the diameter of a human hair — they have been used as tiny biological sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes and actuators.
For the most part, existing MEMS devices are two-dimensional, with functional elements engineered on the surface of a chip. It was thought that operating in three dimensions — to detect acceleration, for example — would require complex manufacturing and costly merging of multiple devices in precise orientations.
Roberto Guzman de Villoria's article on enhanced thermography made the journal highlights list for 2011.
[Translation from French] Nanotubes to visualize defects of damaged airplane or wind turbine pieces: such is the vision of some physicists at MIT, in the US. They used the fact that nanotubes heat up when in the path of an electric current. By integrating them into composite materials, such as those used in turbine blades, they manufactured parts whose defects can be detected by an infrared camera. In this picture, MIT’s letters have been engraved on a sample of this material, weakening it on some spots. The application of an electric current between the borders of the piece reveal its weaknesses: the red parts above and below the M. Those defects are visible because they disturb the current flow locally, concentrating it on the nanotubes which then heat up.
A Harvard bioengineer and an MIT aeronautical engineer have created
a new device that can detect single cancer cells in a blood sample,
potentially allowing doctors to quickly determine whether cancer has
spread from its original site.
Infrared themographic image of a nanoengineered composite heated via electrical
probes (clips can be seen at bottom of image). The scalebar of colors is degrees
Celsius. The MIT logo has been machined into the composite, and the hot and
cool spots around the logo are caused by the thermal-electrical interactions
of the resistive heating and the logo "damage" to the composite.
The enhanced thermographic sensing described in the paper works in the same
Actuators are devices that convert electrical energy into mechanical energy,
such as the battery-powered device inside a cell phone that causes the phone
to vibrate. When this process is reversed — when a device converts mechanical
energy into electrical energy — the device is called an energy harvester, and
that electrical energy is often stored for future use. An example would be
a device inside a pacemaker that converts mechanical energy created by the
motion of a pair of breathing lungs into electrical energy that can be used
to charge the pacemaker’s batteries.
MIT engineers are using carbon nanotubes only billionths of a meter thick to stitch together aerospace materials in work that could make airplane skins and other products some 10 times stronger at a nominal increase in cost.
Carbon nanotubes - tiny, rolled-up tubes of graphite - promise to add speed to electronic circuits and strength to materials like carbon composites, used in airplanes and racecars. A major problem, however, is that the metals used to grow nanotubes react unfavorably with materials found in circuits and composites. But now, researchers at MIT have for the first time shown that nanotubes can grow without a metal catalyst. The researchers demonstrate that zirconium oxide, the same compound found in cubic zirconia "fake diamonds," can also grow nanotubes, but without the unwanted side effects of metal.
Visions of the Future is a 3-part BBC documentary. In Part 3, "The Quantum Revolution", Dr. Michio Kaku visits NECST researchers A. John Hart, and Steven Steiner.
In March, 2009, Dr. Michio Kaku returned to MIT for an extensive interview with NECST Director, Brian L. Wardle. for a new Science Channel series based on Dr. Kaku's book, "Physics of the Impossible".
Professor Wardle appeared in two episodes involving carbon nanotubes: "Designing a Light Saber" and "Building a Force Field".
BECAUSE they are both strong and lightweight, composite materials made from carbon fibres are the darlings of engineers in the aerospace industry. Unfortunately, such materials deteriorate over time. Wind and rain attack the glue that sticks the layers of carbon fibres together. As a consequence, the layers peel away from one another. Many people have tried to solve this problem, without success. A new method aims to do so by stitching the carbon-fibre layers together...
Imagine yourself traversing the barren landscape of a sweltering alien world – a land thirty times hotter than the hottest summer day you have ever felt; a land drowning in a hazy atmosphere of hydrogen and helium gas...
Nanobliss is a gallery of visualizations of small-scale structures of carbon nanotubes and silicon, created by John Hart and collaborators. The dimensions of these structures range from nanometers to millimeters. The visualizations and the underlying fabrication techniques are new media for art, science, and architecture; and for promoting popular awareness and education about nanomaterials and related technologies. Forms under development include museum/gallery exhibitions and laboratory experiments, and advertising and informational pieces in scientific and popular literature.
Stephen Steiner wants to make nanotechnology more accessible to speed up the innovation process. The inclination to think big goes back to Steiner’s teenage years when he vowed to never drive a car as motivation to solve the world’s energy problem.
”Plastics.” The one-word career advice given to Dustin Hoffman’s young movie character Benjamin in the 1967 film The Graduate. Back then, aircraft were built from aluminium alloys. The first commercial carbon fibres had just been introduced as very expensive engineering materials for special military applications. Glass-fibre composites were still considered advanced, but did not have enough stiffness for structural applications in high-performance aircraft...