A nanotube skin that shows areas of strain when exposed to laser light could offer an early warning for structural weaknesses.
Developed by a team from Rice University, the ultra-thin, strain-sensing skin consists of two polymer layers: a bottom layer embedded with carbon nanotubes topped by a second, protective polymer layer. The nanotubes in the skin will fluoresce at different wavelengths depending upon the amount of stress they are under, with the change detectable by a handheld reader.
The smart skin could have applications ranging from bridges to airplane wings, allowing areas of stress and potential damage to be detected—and repaired—sooner.
Image: Satish Nagarajaiah Group/Weisman Research Group
Experimental (left) and simulated (right) strain maps around a hole through an aluminum bar show that nanotube-infused “smart skin” developed at Rice University can effectively assess strain in materials.
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