The latest discovery in the field of nanoengineering just now comes from Caltech engineers: it is a new material formed by numerous interconnected micronodes. Thanks to these small structures, the material is much stronger and more durable than the average.
In fact, this system allows the material to absorb more energy and deform without suffering damage, then returning to its original shape. Qualities that could lead to new, crucial applications in biomedicine and aerospace.
Micro nodes, maxi importance
Widianto P. Moestopo, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the lead author of a paper on micro nodes published in Science Advances (I link it here).
The idea of studying the effect of knots on the mechanical properties of materials was a turning point born during the lockdown period in 2020: Moestopo's research team had already analyzed different types of micro-fabrics, such as lattices and woven materials. The experimentation allowed to deepen the role of friction and energy dissipation.
How resistant are they?
Each of these nodes, obtained with an HD 3D lithographic print, measures approximately 70 micrometers in height and width. Instead, each fiber has a radius of about 1,7 micrometres: one hundredth of the radius of a human hair.
Materials of this type demonstrate a much higher tensile strength than those without knots but structurally identical: in summary, they absorb 92% more energy and require more than double the strain to break compared to their knotless counterparts.
The next steps
This research opens up new perspectives in the field of nanomaterials, and in the near future it could have a really significant impact in sectors such as biomedical and aerospace. One day we may have surgical sutures and super strong cables thanks to the use of these tiny, but powerful, knots.
The research team is aiming to further improve the method for creating even stronger and more complex knot materials.
I make a simpler one, with a handkerchief, to remind me to update you on this super interesting field.