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  • RPI Makes Nanotube 'Shock Absorbers'
Jan 2005
TROY, N.Y., Jan. 12 -- Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a novel carbon-nanotube-based material that chokes vibration and may have applications for both large and small mechanical equipment and electronic devices. The researchers say the new material will be useful as a filler to enhance traditional vibration-reduction materials.
The Rensselaer research team, lead by Koratkar, added carbon nanotube fillers to traditional vibration reduction materials to enhance their energy dissipation capability. Adding large quantities of nanoscale fillers increases the amount of surface area, and thereby increases frictional sliding that occurs at the filler-to-filler interface. The result is a decrease in vibrations.

Clusters of the carbon-nanotube vibration-dampening material. (Photo: Nikhil Koratkar, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
"The nanoscale building blocks we have developed have both micro and macro applications," said Nikhil Koratkar, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer. "The new systems reduce and control vibrations within structures and will benefit the performance, safety and reliability of future manufacturing equipment, sensitive laboratory equipment and everyday electronic devices."
Yip-Wah Chung, director of the NSF Surface Engineering and Material Design Program, said, "True to the spirit of nanoscale engineering, Koratkar's team developed unique composite materials to maximize frictional damping. Although one may argue that carbon nanotubes are too expensive to use in practical systems, there is no reason why other, less expensive, nanoscale materials cannot be incorporated to accomplish the same task. This is an excellent example of someone taking lemon and turning it into lemonade."
In 2004, Koratkar received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) to fund the development of these new materials. Additional Rensselaer researchers on the project include Pulickel Ajayan, professor of materials science and engineering; Pawel Keblinksi, associate professor of materials science and engineering; and Jonghwan Suhr, a doctoral student in mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering.
The research is available in the Nature Materials journal online, and will be published in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

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