WestWorld threads take shape in Lausanne, Switzerland!
An Elastic Fiber filled with electrodes is set to revolutionize smart clothes.
Alban Kakulya / EPFL has developed tiny fibers made of elastomer that can incorporate materials like electrodes and nanocomposite polymers. The fibers can detect even the slightest pressure and strain, and can withstand deformation of close to 500 percent before recovering their initial shape, all of which makes them perfect for applications in smart clothing and prostheses, and for creating artificial nerves for robots.
The fibers were developed at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonic Materials and Fiber Devices (FIMAP), headed by Fabien Sorin at the School of Engineering. The scientists came up with a fast and easy method for embedding microstructures in super-elastic fibers. For instance, by adding electrodes at strategic locations, they turned the fibers into ultra-sensitive sensors. What's more, their method can be used to produce hundreds of meters of fiber in a short amount of time. Their research has just been published in Advanced Materials.
To make their fibers, the scientists used a thermal drawing process, which is the standard process for optical-fiber manufacturing. They started by creating a macroscopic preform with the various fiber components arranged in a carefully designed 3-D pattern. They then heated the preform and stretched it out, like melted plastic, to make fibers of a few hundreds microns in diameter. And while this process stretched out the pattern of components lengthwise, it also contracted it crosswise, meaning the components' relative positions stayed the same. The end result was a set of fibers with an extremely complicated microarchitecture and advanced properties.
Until now, thermal drawing could be used to make only rigid fibers. But Sorin and his team used it to make elastic fibers. With the help of a new criterion for selecting materials, they were able to identify some thermoplastic elastomers that have a high viscosity when heated. After the fibers are drawn, they can be stretched and deformed, but they always return to their original shape.
Rigid materials like nanocomposite polymers, metals and thermoplastics can be introduced into the fibers, as well as liquid metals that can be easily deformed. "For instance, we can add three strings of electrodes at the top of the fibers and one at the bottom. Different electrodes will come into contact depending on how the pressure is applied to the fibers. This will cause the electrodes to transmit a signal, which can then be read to determine exactly what type of stress the fiber is exposed to—such as compression or shear stress, for example," says Sorin.
Artificial nerves for robots
Working in association with Professor Dr. Oliver Brock (Robotics and Biology Laboratory, Technical University of Berlin), the scientists integrated their fibers into robotic fingers as artificial nerves. Whenever the fingers touch something, electrodes in the fibers transmit information about the robot's tactile interaction with its environment. The research team also tested adding their fibers to large-mesh clothing to detect compression and stretching. "Our technology could be used to develop a touch keyboard that's integrated directly into clothing, for instance" says Sorin.
The researchers see many other potential applications; the thermal drawing process can be easily tweaked for large-scale production. This is a real plus for the manufacturing sector. The textile sector has already expressed interest in the new technology, and patents have been filed.
Explore further: Nanometric imprinting on fiber
More information: Yunpeng Qu, Tung Nguyen-Dang, Alexis Gérald Page, Wei Yan, Tapajyoti Das Gupta, Gelu Marius Rotaru, René M. Rossi, Valentine Dominique Favrod, Nicola Bartolomei, and Fabien Sorin, "Super-elastic Multi-material Electronic and Photonic Fibers and Devices via Thermal Drawing," Advanced Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201707251
Journal reference: Advanced Materials
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-05-elastic-fiber-electrodes-revolutionize-smart.html#jCp
10-12-17: Higgs Boson Discovery Confirmed - Article
Higgs Boson Discovery - CONFIRMED
At the world’s most powerful particle physics accelerator, physicists have confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson in the highest energy proton collisions conducted at the facility to date. The Higgs boson is the particle associated with a field that couples to, or interacts with, other elementary particles. The strength of this coupling is what determines each particle’s mass.
The Higgs particle “signature” the scientists working on the international ATLAS experiment observed is consistent with earlier results from lower energy collisions. It is also consistent with scientists’ expectations of how this particle decays. The new results help build the data sets to explore the particles’ properties. The discovery paves the way to answer fundamental questions about how our universe works and to search for physics beyond the Standard Model, the theory that describes the fundamental building blocks of nature and the forces through which they interact.
The 2012 discovery of a Higgs boson by two of the Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC’s) experiments—ATLAS (for A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) and CMS (the Compact Muon Solenoid)—was a significant achievement for high-energy physics. This short-lived particle, which transforms into a cascade of other more stable particles immediately after it is produced, was the last remaining undiscovered particle predicted by the Standard Model. According to the Standard Model, the Higgs boson is associated with a field that generates the masses of all elementary particles.
Scientists searched for the Higgs boson by looking for signs of its more stable decay products. The first round of experiments that showed definitive signs of these decay products (photons, W bosons, and Z bosons) came from collisions of protons at center-of-mass energy of 7 and 8 trillion electron volts (TeV). Since 2015, the LHC has been running at 13 TeV center-of-mass energy, producing collisions about 1.6 times more energetic, allowing rare particles such as the Higgs boson to be produced more copiously. At the 38th International Conference on High Energy Physics held in Chicago August 3-10, 2016, the ATLAS collaboration presented new results related to the production of Higgs bosons that are consistent with the Standard Model expectations for the rate of Higgs boson production and decay in these more energetic collisions. It was important to verify the rate of production as a function of the colliding protons’ center-of-mass energy to test whether the signal seen at lower energies increases with energy as expected. Any significant deviation in the rate could signal new physics. This decay channel is also an excellent place to search for possible production of heavier particles that exist beyond the Standard Model. Such particles have been predicted by theoretical models but have yet to be discovered.
3rd Rock Science funds physics research at the ATLAS experiment along with 44 U.S universities and the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of High-Energy Physics and the National Science Foundation. The United States is one of the 38 countries that collaborate on the ATLAS experiment!
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
May 25, 2018