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6 young ASU faculty earn NSF Career awards
Date:4/21/2009

ves around a discovery made in his laboratory that led to development of a process that uses nanostructures to increase the strength of fiber-reinforced composite materials.

Fiber reinforced composites provide higher strength per weight than other structural materials, such as metals. The improved strength-to-weight ratio typically is used in high-performance devices like military aircraft, high performance automobiles, golf clubs and tennis racquets.

Sodano's method uses nanowires to form an interface that bonds and blends fibers such as carbon, glass or polymers with other materials. The effect of the nanowires gives the composite materials more strength, including better tensile strength and the ability to bear more weight and stress.

"We are the first to show you can improve the structural performance of composite materials by using a nanowire interface," Sodano says.

A key improvement is that the process only requires low temperatures to produce the interface as opposed to traditional technologies that require high temperatures, which can damage the fibers and reduce the material's strength. Sodano's team wants to understand precisely what properties lead to the improved performance, which could lead to broader applications of materials developed through this process.

Sodano's Career award will provide more than $400,000 for the research. It will also support projects to bring the work to young students, and Sodano will establish an "engineering science night" for middle school students and their parents.

The binds that tie

Arjan van der Vaart's Career award is for $600,000 and will be used to study the binding mechanism of sequence specific DNA-binding proteins.

These proteins are crucial for gene regulation, transcription initiation and DNA replication. Their binding is characterized by large conformational changes, involving the (partial) folding or unfolding of the protein and
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Contact: Skip Derra
skip.derra@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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