Researchers at MIT have claimed to develop a new kind of fabric that mimics the stretchy and strong properties of spider silk.
Such fibers can be used in making fuel-cell cells, medical devices, and military products.
The material is known as polymeric nanocomposites and can be used to manufacture tear-resistant and ultra-strong fabrics. The research was funded by the U.S. Military who are interested in such materials for a wide range of applications such as tear-resistant films and body armor fabrics.
Other companies who were attempting similar research always faced a problem that the fabric when made stretchy lost all its strength and when made strong was not flexible. But the MIT researchers learned that the secret lies in the arrangement of Nano-crystalline reinforcement of the fabric.
MIT researchers started with tiny clay disks about 1-nm in diameter which are arranged in stacks. When these disks are put in a solvent the chips come apart.
not solving them in water, then slowly exchanging water for a solvent that also dissolves polyurethane. They then cant solve the polymer in the new mixture, and finally removed the solvent.
After the whole process, the result is a nanocomposite of stiff clay particles that are dispersed a stretchy matrix, which becomes strong without losing its flexibility.
Today the challenge in front of the global community is to increase the storage capacity of a hard disk without increasing the size of the disks.
Though the challenge looks difficult to achieve as the magnetic disks have already been exploited to the full potential yet some researchers at the NIST are working on a way to increase the storage using Nanodots.
Nanodots are magnetic particles that are just a few billionths of a meter across. These dots have a north and a south pole like a bar magnet. These poles can be switched from one state to another when a strong magnetic field is applied at these dots.
Currently, the researchers have been able to develop Nanodots that are only 50 nanometers wide. These dots were fabricated using electron-beam lithography to pattern multilayer thin films.
Now researchers are working on a technique so that they can further reduce the size of these nanoparticles. The only problem here is that the smaller the size of these particles the more is the magnetic field that is needed to switch them from one form to another.
Other research for increasing the storage capacity is to use lasers to heat and switch individual bits. We can reach the ultimate goal if we combine laser technology with Nanodots technology. Since heat reduces the amount of magnetic field that is used for changing the state of the Nanodots.
If researchers are successful in developing the technology then we can say that in the future we will use HDDs that will be having one hundred times the capacity of today’s hard disks.
Now the textile industry stands to gain from nanotechnology as researchers are working to blend textile with nanotechnology. This is being undertaken by researchers at North Carolina State University. Researchers who are working on processes and finishes for fabrics and fibers are environment friendly for the creation of textile material that has extraordinary physical properties and color perception technologies.
It will also be possible to create antimicrobial fabrics with the aid of nanotechnology. Poly-lactic acid which is a polymer used in developing the fabric is biodegradable as it has been created from corn as compared to traditional polymers that are petroleum-based.
Carbon nanotubes are being used for improving the electrical, mechanical, and thermal properties of conventional and nanofibers. Now get ready for some cool fabrics, courtesy nanotechnology.