Nature top images of 2013 features UNL research

jbrehm2, December 20, 2013 | View original publication

Nature top images of 2013 features UNL research

An illustration depicting strong, tough nanofibers that UNL materials engineers developed is featured in Nature News' "365 days: Images of the year." UNL material engineers Dimitry Papkov and Yuris Dzenis collaborated with Joel Brehm, Office of Research and Economic Development graphic designer, to create the high-resolution scanning electron microscopy illustration of the UNL team’s nanofibers.

Dzenis' team developed a structural nanofiber that is both strong and tough ‒ two properties once thought mutually exclusive ‒ that could transform everything from airplanes and bridges to body armor and bicycles. Most advanced fibers are strong, but can break relatively easily because they lack toughness. To compensate, engineers use more material, which makes airplanes and other products heavier. Dzenis and colleagues created an exceptionally thin nanofiber and found that by making it even thinner, it became both stronger and tougher.

Tougher structural materials would allow products to be both lightweight and safe, said Dzenis, R. Vernon McBroom Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Their findings were featured in ACS Nano in April.

The National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and a U.S. Army Research Office Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant fund this research.