Grazing the Nanograss
Adaptable substance may cool computers and put a zoom lens in your cell phone.
Computerworld - A drop of water glides across the flat surface like quicksilver, moving effortlessly from place to place as the surface is tilted. It's hard to believe that the little bead is water, for it doesn't wet the surface as it races around, seemingly without friction.
The little drop in this impromptu laboratory demonstration isn't on an ordinary surface. It's riding on "nanograss," a bed of upright silicon posts a thousand times thinner than a human hair. Bell Labs, the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies Inc., is betting that nanograss will find its way into commercial products ranging from low-friction boat hulls to heat sinks for computer processors and batteries with a shelf life of 25 years. It will be one of the first nanoscale technologies commercialized by Bell Labs and its partner, the New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium (NJNC).
"Nanograss is a whole new class of structure, where we are nanoengineering the surface of a material," says David Bishop, a research vice president at Bell Labs and president of the NJNC. "By adjusting the area of these posts and their density, and how you pattern them, you can engineer how the fluid interacts with the substrate. So you are not stuck with what nature gave you, and you can do lots of amazing things."
It is also possible to alter the properties of nanograss on the fly by changing the temperature, applying ultrasound or a small voltage, or other means. A voltage builds up an electrical field at the tips of the nanograss, and that changes its wettability through an effect called electrowetting.
Bishop says other applications of nanograss include the following:
Heat sinks for computer processors and other devices. "It's very hard to get high fluid flows through small silicon channels; it kind of jams up," Bishop says. "But nanograss allows much higher fluid flow because the liquid is only interacting with one-hundredth as much surface."
Commercialization of the nanograss heat-sink idea is two to three years away, but Bell Labs is about to sign a contract with a company to develop a "smart" heat sink that can change its cooling properties as needs change, he says. The idea is noteworthy because chip makers have found that heat dissipation is one
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Live Webcast Best Practices: How to Improve Business Continuity with Virtualization VMware solutions include a range of business continuity capabilities to help ensure availability for applications across your virtualized environment. Learn More>>
- Live Webcast
Transforming Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain Effectiveness with Cross-Functional Analytics
Date: May 6th, 2014
Time: 1 PM EDT
Attend this Webcast to find out how Oracle's packaged analytic applications enable line-of-business managers to examine all...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?