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MIT: 'Nanostitching' could strengthen airplane skins, more
Date:3/4/2009

evelop processing techniques for creating the nanotubes and for incorporating them into existing aerospace composites, work that was published last year in two separate journals.

How does nanostitching work? The polymer glue between two carbon-fiber layers is heated, becoming more liquid-like. Billions of nanotubes positioned perpendicular to each carbon-fiber layer are then sucked up into the glue on both sides of each layer. Because the nanotubes are 1000 times smaller than the carbon fibers, they don't detrimentally affect the much larger carbon fibers, but instead fill the spaces around them, stitching the layers together.

"So we're putting the strongest fibers known to humankind [the nanotubes] in the place where the composite is weakest, and where they're needed most," Wardle said. He noted that these dramatic improvements can be achieved with nanotubes comprising less than one percent of the mass of the overall composite. In addition, he said, the nanotubes should add only a few percent to the cost of the composite, "while providing substantial improvements in bulk multifunctional properties."


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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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