'Plastic Steel': Optically Transparent Plastic Nanocomposites
"Plastic steel", an optically transparent nanocomposite has provided Paul Podsiadlo, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, with an award at the 2008 Collegiate Inventors Competition.
"Plastic steel" is stiff and ultra strong, with properties approaching the values of steel and its alloys. Podsiadlo creates the material layer by layer from nanometer-thin wafers of clay nanosheets and polymer; the end product has hundreds of layers.
('Plastic steel' Paul Posiadlo's polymer matrix nanocomposite)
Fig. 1. Preparation of PVS-MTM nanocomposite. (A) Schematic representation of the internal architecture of PVA-MTM composite (picture shows 5.5 bilayers). (B) Atomic force microscopy phase image of a single PVA-MTM bilayer adsorbed on top of a silicon wafer. Top inset gives a simplified schematic representation of the microscopy image. Lower inset is a 1 μm x 1 μm close up of the main image showing individual MTM platelets more clearly. (C) Compilation of UV-V is absorbance spectra collected after multiples of 25 bilayers of PVA-MTM composite deposited on a microscope glass slide. (D) Free-standing, 300-bilayer PVA-MTM composite film showing high flexibility and high transparency. Lower image is taken at an angle to show diffraction colors.
The structure of this artificial material resembles that of the nacre found in seashells. Podsiadlo envisions this material being used in a variety of applications, from body armor to biomedical coatings. Research for the project was initially funded by the U.S. Defense Department and the National Institutes of Health.
Science fiction fans prick up their ears whenever anyone mentions "plastic steel" or transparent materials that are as strong as steel. Frank Herbert popularized the idea of science-fictional plasteel in his 1965 novel Dune.
Star Trek fans will, of course, recall the transparent aluminum from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Scotty barters the formula to an alert 20th century plastics executive.
(The completed formula for transparent aluminum)
I'm looking forward to being able to pick up sheets of plastic steel at my local hardware store before I retire. From Alum wins national invention competition with “plastic steel” and
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/25/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme. - Frank Herbert, 1965.
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'- J.G. Ballard, 1962.
3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'
MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'
Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!
China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.
Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories