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.

Related Articles


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 October 30, 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 October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Lowe’s is testing out what it’s describing as a robotic shopping assistant in one of its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores in California. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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