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Nanofibers In Unlimited Lengths Now Available

It is now possible to grow nanowires of unlimited length, according to researchers at the University of Illinois. Dr. Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, and graduate students Abhijit Suryavanshi and Jie Hu, describe the process in a paper accepted for the journal Advanced Materials.


(Yu Min Feng)

Here's how the process works:

To use the new process, the researchers begin with a reservoir of ink connected to a glass micropipette that has an aperture as small as 100 nanometers. The micropipette is brought close to a substrate until a liquid meniscus forms between the two. As the micropipette is then smoothly pulled away, ink is drawn from the reservoir. Within the tiny meniscus, the solute nucleates and precipitates as the solvent quickly evaporates...

To draw longer nanowires, the researchers developed a precision spinning process that simultaneously draws and winds a nanofiber on a spool that is millimeters in diameter. Using this technique, Yu and his students wound a coil of microfiber. The microfiber was approximately 850 nanometers in diameter and 40 centimeters long.

Science fiction fans are particularly interested in technology of this kind. Ever since Arthur C. Clarke popularized the idea of creating a space elevator that used pseudo-one-dimensional diamond crystals to provide strength with very little weight, sf fans have been waiting with baited breath for favorable nanotube news.

Via New process makes nanofibers in complex shapes and unlimited lengths.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/13/2008)

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