DENTON (UNT), Texas -- What do the increased fire resistance of a building material, and the miniaturization of electronic devices have in common?
They have benefited from improvements in nanotechnology.
An associate professor of materials science and engineering at UNT recently received a more than half a million dollar federal grant to study and deploy nanotailored multifunctional materials. These are substances that have multiple characteristics thanks to nanotechnology, which involves the combination of materials science, engineering, chemistry, biology and physics to explore matter at the atomic and molecular levels where the nanometer (one billionth of a meter or about 1/75,000th of the width of a human hair), is the standard unit of measurement.
Nandika D'Souza says the three year cooperative agreement of $515,000 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology will examine how nano particles of various substances can be used in conjunction with polymers to form composites, thin films or dispersions. D'Souza says an example of the "contradictory properties" she is researching would be a polymer-ceramic-nanotube combination that could be both electrically conductive as well as store electronic charges like a capacitor.
"A material like that could be very beneficial in the microelectronics field," she says. "The whole issue here is multifaceted, how materials relate to and react with each other. This grant feeds into the other activities we are doing here at the College of Engineering."
D'Souza says the work on this project will be jointly conducted at NIST, near Washington D.C., and at UNT. She says, "We have special systems here to do the combined measurement of these composites, such as their mechanical and electrical properties, or their mechanical and optical properties." Two post-doctoral researchers will be hired for the project.
Oscar Garcia, founding dean of UNT's College of Engineering says, "The work that Dr. D'Souza is carrying on will be particularly useful in material design and engineering of three-dimensional, complex and hybrid composites in contrast with the usual simple laminates."
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