Enbody, Tomanek, and Kwon awarded patentRichard Enbody, David Tomanek (Physics), and Young-Kyun Kwon (PhD '99, Physics) have been awarded a patent for "Micro-Fastening System and Method of Manufacture" (U.S. Patent 7,181,811).
This system provides a novel way to strongly bond materials. It is a hook-and-loop, Velcro-like fastening system using nanotubes to form the hooks and loops -- hence the nickname, "Nano-Velcro". Since carbon nanotubes are one of the strongest materials known and are stable to thousands of degrees Kelvin, this bonding mechanism will be very strong.
Imagine bonding not only the wings of an aircraft, but also the turbine blades. Although similar to Velcro in how it binds, the unyielding nature of nanotubes prevents them from coming apart. Since carbon nanotubes can be made to be either conducting or non-conducting, this bonding process can be either. While it can be used for large scale bonding, it can also bond nanoscale devices such as miniature robots small enough to work in blood vessels.
This research was a result of a computational intensive collaboration between Physics and Computer Science and Engineering.
Two carbon nanotube hooks fastened together. Each green or red sphere is a carbon atom.
An article on properties of Nano-Velcro appears in Physical Review Letters volume 91 issue 16, page 165503, October 1, 2003.
(Date Posted: 2007-03-12)