'Plastic Steel': Optically Transparent Plastic Nanocomposites
"Plastic steel", an optically transparent nanocomposite has provided Paul Podsiadlo, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, with an award at the 2008 Collegiate Inventors Competition.
"Plastic steel" is stiff and ultra strong, with properties approaching the values of steel and its alloys. Podsiadlo creates the material layer by layer from nanometer-thin wafers of clay nanosheets and polymer; the end product has hundreds of layers.
('Plastic steel' Paul Posiadlo's polymer matrix nanocomposite)
Fig. 1. Preparation of PVS-MTM nanocomposite. (A) Schematic representation of the internal architecture of PVA-MTM composite (picture shows 5.5 bilayers). (B) Atomic force microscopy phase image of a single PVA-MTM bilayer adsorbed on top of a silicon wafer. Top inset gives a simplified schematic representation of the microscopy image. Lower inset is a 1 μm x 1 μm close up of the main image showing individual MTM platelets more clearly. (C) Compilation of UV-V is absorbance spectra collected after multiples of 25 bilayers of PVA-MTM composite deposited on a microscope glass slide. (D) Free-standing, 300-bilayer PVA-MTM composite film showing high flexibility and high transparency. Lower image is taken at an angle to show diffraction colors.
The structure of this artificial material resembles that of the nacre found in seashells. Podsiadlo envisions this material being used in a variety of applications, from body armor to biomedical coatings. Research for the project was initially funded by the U.S. Defense Department and the National Institutes of Health.
Science fiction fans prick up their ears whenever anyone mentions "plastic steel" or transparent materials that are as strong as steel. Frank Herbert popularized the idea of science-fictional plasteel in his 1965 novel Dune.
Star Trek fans will, of course, recall the transparent aluminum from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Scotty barters the formula to an alert 20th century plastics executive.
(The completed formula for transparent aluminum)
I'm looking forward to being able to pick up sheets of plastic steel at my local hardware store before I retire. From Alum wins national invention competition with “plastic steel” and
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/25/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Home Made Lightsaber?
'Instantly the disk put forth a blue-white beam as thick around as his thumb.'-George Lucas, 1976
Self-Healing Polymer Works Without Catalyst
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Filabot Turns Dull Plastic Junk To 3D Printed Shiny
'Whenever Nell's clothes got too small for her, Harv would pitch them into the deke bin and then have the M.C. make new ones.'-Neal Stephenson, 1995.
Army Wants Black Blacker Than Black
'Well, we have a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...'- Doc Smith, 1940.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Haute Cuisine On International Space Station
'The gas gave sufficient heat for the culinary apparatus...'
Tongue Mouse Created By Valve Engineer
'He pressed hard with his tongue against his right upper first molar.'
K5 Autonomous Data Machine The Future Of Mall Security
''Halt!' A robot guard appeared...'
RF Safe-Stop Shuts Cars Off
'...a police control-override.'
Army's New Bird-Like Surveillance UAV
'The prototype blue-bellied, gray-backed tracer-bird with the wide-angle eye...'
Honda's Tumblebug - The UNI-CUB beta
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...'
NASA's LADEE Enters Lunar Orbit
'... dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge.'
3D Printing An Entire Car
"... Almost as good as the original it was printed from."
Aldebaran Robot Talks Like C3PO - Almost
'See Vee Threepio - Vee for versatility - at your service...'
Google's Skin Tattoo Lie Detector
'Three and a half centimetres in diameter, permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead.'
inFORM Dynamic Shape Output Device
Like that pushpin device you remember, but supercharged.
Owlet Vitals, The Future Of Baby Monitoring
'In every diaper there is a fine copper wire...'
Robert Heinlein, Your Personal Electric Helicopter Will Be Ready In 2016
"They were half way home when a single flyer, hopping free in a copter harness, approached the little parade."
WildCat Runs Faster Than You, Untethered
'...moving with such drifting ease that it was like a single solid cloud of black-grey smoke blown at him in silence.' Almost.
HiBot's ACM-R5H Robot Video Shows Graceful Terminator-Style Swimming
'No! No! Aaaaaaarrrrrrgh!'
tDCS Jumpstarts Your Future
'We invented a scanner that can change the labyrinthine neural connections of the brain by tiny electronic impulses...'.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories