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Rensselaer Research Review Spring 2007 * Feature Articles Awards & Grants Recent Patents Accolades
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* Nanoblades (top view)
A view of the new nanoblades from above
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New Magnesium Nanoblades Challenge Conventional Wisdom

“Cutting Edge” Nanomaterial Could Be Used in Hydrogen Storage

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a razor-like material that is truly on the “cutting edge” of nanotechnology. Called nanoblades, these first-of-their-kind magnesium nanomaterials challenge conventional wisdom about nanostructure growth, and could have applications in energy storage and fuel cell technology.

The September 2007 issue of the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology details the discovery.

Understanding the Nanoblade

The sharp nanometer-scale surface differs vastly from any other nanomaterial created before using oblique angle deposition, according to lead researcher Gwo-Ching Wang, professor and head of physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Rensselaer. The team’s nearly two-dimensional creation changes the traditional understanding of oblique angle deposition, which was previously thought to always create cylindrical structures like nanorods or nanosprings.

Unlike three-dimensional springs and rods, nanoblades are extremely thin, with very large surface areas. They also are surprisingly spread out for a uniform nanomaterial, with one to two micron meters in between each blade, according to Wang.

The materials could be extremely useful for energy storage, particularly hydrogen storage, Wang said. In order to store hydrogen, a large surface area is needed to provide room for the material to expand as more hydrogen atoms are stored. The vast surface area of each nanoblade, coupled with the large spaces between each blade, could make them ideal for this application.


Photo credit: RPI/Tom Parker
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“Magnesium Nanoblades Challenge Conventional Wisdom”
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  Feature Articles | Podcast | Awards | Patents | Accolades | Back Issues    Winter 2007-08
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