Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists develop strongest, lightest glass nanofibers in the world

Date:
January 10, 2013
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
Globally the quest has been on to find ultrahigh strength composites, leading scientists to investigate light, ultrahigh strength nanowires that are not compromised by defects. Historically, carbon nanotubes were the strongest material available, but high strengths could only be measured in very short samples just a few microns long, providing little practical value. Now research has resulted in the creation of the strongest, lightest weight silica nanofibers -- 'nanowires' that are 15 times stronger than steel and can be manufactured in lengths potentially of thousands of kilometers.

Dr Gilberto Brambilla mounting a fiber on the nanowire fabrication rig.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Southampton

The University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) is pioneering research into developing the strongest silica nanofibres in the world.

Globally the quest has been on to find ultrahigh strength composites, leading ORC scientists to investigate light, ultrahigh strength nanowires that are not compromised by defects. Historically, carbon nanotubes were the strongest material available, but high strengths could only be measured in very short samples just a few microns long, providing little practical value.

Now research by ORC Principal Research Fellow Dr Gilberto Brambilla and ORC Director Professor Sir David Payne has resulted in the creation of the strongest, lightest weight silica nanofibres -- 'nanowires' that are 15 times stronger than steel and can be manufactured in lengths potentially of 1000's of kilometres.

Their findings are already generating extensive interest from many companies around the world and could be set to transform the aviation, marine and safety industries. Tests are currently being carried out globally into the potential future applications for the nanowires.

"With synthetic fibres it is important to have high strength, achieved by production of fibre with extremely low defect rates, and low weight," says Dr Brambilla.

"Usually if you increase the strength of a fibre you have to increase its diameter and thus its weight, but our research has shown that as you decrease the size of silica nanofibres their strength increases, yet they still remain very lightweight. We are the only people who currently have optimised the strength of these fibres.

"Our discovery could change the future of composites and high strength materials across the world and have a huge impact on the marine, aviation and security industries. We want to investigate their potential use in composites and we envisage that this material could be used extensively in the manufacture of products such as aircraft, speedboats and helicopters," he adds.

Professor Payne explains: "Weight for weight, silica nanowires are 15 times stronger than high strength steel and 10 times stronger than conventional GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic). We can decrease the amount of material used thereby reducing the weight of the object.

"Silica and oxygen, required to produce nanowires, are the two most common elements on the Earth's crust, making it sustainable and cheap to exploit. Furthermore, we can produce silica nanofibres by the tonne, just as we currently do for the optical fibres that power the internet."

The research findings came about following five years of investigations by Dr Brambilla and Professor Payne using Gilberto's 500,000 Fellowship funding from the Royal Society.

Dr Brambilla shared his findings with fellow researchers at a special seminar he organised recently at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, at Chicheley Hall, in Buckinghamshire.

"It was particularly challenging dealing with fibres that were so small. They are nearly 1,000 times smaller than a human hair and I was handling them with my bare hands," says Dr Brambilla.

"It took me some time to get used to it, but using the state-of-the-art facilities at the ORC I was able to discover that silica nanofibres become stronger the smaller they get. In fact when they become very, very small they behave in a completely different way. They stop being fragile and don't break like glass but instead become ductile and break like plastic. This means they can be strained a lot.

"Up until now most of our research has been into the science of nanowires but in the future we are particularly interested in investigating the technology and applications of these fibres," adds Dr Brambilla.

To find out more about the ORC's work on silica nanowires, visit: www.orc.soton.ac.uk/omfds.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Scientists develop strongest, lightest glass nanofibers in the world." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110075430.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2013, January 10). Scientists develop strongest, lightest glass nanofibers in the world. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110075430.htm
University of Southampton. "Scientists develop strongest, lightest glass nanofibers in the world." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110075430.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) The urban 4x4 is the latest must-have for Chinese drivers, whose conversion to the cult of the SUV is the talking point of this year's Beijing auto show. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) The light-field photography engineers at Lytro unveiled their next innovation: a professional DSLR-like camera called "Illum." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) Sales of motorcycles have continued to ride back from the depths of hell known as the Great Recession. Excluding scooters, sales of motorcycles increased 3% in 2013. In units, however, at 465,000 sold last year, the total remained about 50% below the peak hit in 2007. Industry leader Harley Davidson’s shareholders have benefited both by the industry recovery and positive headlines emanating from the company. Belus Capital Advisors CEO Brian Sozzi takes you beyond the headlines of the motorcycle maker. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins