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Posted: January 31, 2007
Nanostructures are stronger than 'large' structures
(Nanowerk News) Researchers at the Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute have succeeded in proving for the first time that tiny nanostructures are stronger than “large” structures. In an article published in the latest issue of the prestigious scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology ("Effect of supramolecular structure on polymer nanofibre elasticity"), the Technion researchers showed that in structures less than a certain diameter, the strength of the material increases drastically.
Nanofiber cloth created in the Technion Laboratories using electric weaving. (Source: Technion)
“For some time now, researchers in the world have been dealing with the question of whether the physical properties of the tiniest nanostructures are similar to or different from the properties of ‘large’ structures,” explain the researchers – Prof. Eyal Zussman and Dr. Oleg Gendelman. “The question was whether smaller is stronger or weaker. In our research, we chose nanostructures in the form of polymer nanofibers, similar to spider webs. We showed, for the first time, that the smaller the fiber diameter – the greater its strength. Moreover, below a certain diameter, the strength begins to increase drastically.”
The Technion researchers explain this phenomenon in the article: “When the diameter is small – the molecules do not have the possibility to position themselves freely within the fiber. Their movement is limited and therefore, they are forced to create stronger structures.”
Also participating in the research were Dr. Arkadii Arinstein and doctoral student Michael Burman. The researchers anticipate that, in continuation, they will attain nanostructures with excellent mechanical properties that are stronger and use less material. Their discovery could in the future have practical implications in creating lighter protective vests or stronger fibers and strings.