Scientists have manufactured a microscale bicycle chain comprised of silicon links thinner than a human hair that behaves just like its regular-sized counterpart. The tiny chain system could one day help power microscopic devices.
Image: Courtesy of Barry Ritchey/Sandia National Laboratories
Ed Vernon, a technologist at Sandia National Laboratories, designed and patented the 50-link silicon microchain (see image), which was built by the labs Microelectronics Development Laboratory (MDL). The centers of the tiny links are separated by just 50 microns. The links can rotate 52 degrees in either direction with respect to their counterparts in the chain without breaking the support structure. Such flexibility, the scientists note, means multiple gears powered by the chain need not lie in a straight line.
Such a gear and chain mechanism could conceivably replace the multiple drivers currently required to run microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) motors. "All those drives take up a lot of real estate on chips," Vernon notes. A single chain, however, could rotate many drive shafts or drive a MEMS device from a motor situated at a distance. But MEMS researcher Kaigham Gabriel of Carnegie Mellon University observes that "there are very few applications in the commercial space that require continuous rotary motion or the translation thereof." He also cautions that microscopic gears tend to lock together less tightly than do macroscopic ones. One thing is for certain, any applications that do come of the new work are a long way off. Says Vernon: "I expect it will be three to four years before youll see anything this complex out in industry."
Sarah Graham | Scientific American
Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces
25.07.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA
Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials
24.07.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences