Precise Polymer Nanotrusses

Jenny Einhorn | Week 1

Precision Polymer Nanotrusses are innovative because they combine many different existing characteristics to form a new material. Take an existing material such as glass; the glass is reduced to the smallest possible scale and combined with principles of architecture applied at the nano level. It is a repeated geometric form, and can be built using virtually any material. At this point has only been developed at a small scale, about the size of an 8.5X11 inch sheet of paper. The “material” itself has not changed, it has just been minimized to the nano level, and then arranged in a manner that mimics structures in nature, such as a turtle shell or lobster claw. The benefit of this material is that it is comprised of 99% air so it is significantly lighter than the same material in its bulk form, but the strength is not compromised.  It is actually more durable than the bulk form, it is resistant to cracks due to its structural complexity.  It is flexible, it can be formed to mold essentially anything (think about the curve of a turtle shell/ lobster claw) yet it remains “as tough as steel.” The hope is to apply this material at a larger scale such as an airplane, which would significantly reduce the weight of the aircraft, which in-turn would reduce fuel use.

Julia Greer, “materials by Design: 3-Dimensional Architected Structural Meta-Materials,” Division of Engineering and Applied Science. California Institute of Technology, 2014.



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