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MIT Develops New Multifunctional Fibers with Piezoelectric Sensitivity
Posted By Yuka Yoneda On July 13, 2010 @ 1:59 pm In Green Materials,green technology | 2 Comments
MIT labs just unveiled its latest technological breakthrough — a brand new kind of material  that combines optical fiber technology and piezoelectrics , meaning it can actually sense pressure changes against it. The wonder fibers  have a myriad of applications – from intelligent garments  that can monitor the body to structural sensors that can detect even the smallest stresses on a building, to self-powered medical devices  small enough to fit in the smallest crevices.
It’s not the first time the MIT  team has developed heat and light-sensitive fibers. The new part is that they’ve now added piezoelectric  functionality to these materials allowing them to convert mechanical energy into electrical signals and then back again.
But it wasn’t easy for the team. Led by Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Yoel Fink , the team achieved their previous success with heat and light-sensitive fibers by devising a method of layering them into a thick “perform” cylinder, and then heating and stretching them into a long, thin strand. Keep in mind that in order to do that, all of the materials involved have to melt and stretch at similar temperatures – including the new piezoelectric layer.
The team was finally able to combine their earlier materials with the new piezoelectric layer , creating a fiber that carries both light and electricity. The new multifunctional material has far-reaching applications from making miniscule biosensors to tiny ultrasound imagers. We’re particularly interested in the fibers’ ability to “feel” feather-pressure stresses and what that could mean for monitoring earthquakes  and other structural instabilities.
Via PopSci 
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 piezoelectrics: http://inhabitat.com/index.php?s=piezoelectric
 wonder fibers: http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/25780/page1/
 intelligent garments: http://www.ecouterre.com/category/wearable-technology/
 self-powered medical devices: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/03/30/blood-power-piezoelectric-nanowires-could-turn-your-body-into-a-battery/
 MIT: http://web.mit.edu/
 Yoel Fink: http://www.rle.mit.edu/rleonline/People/YoelFink.html
 earthquakes: http://inhabitat.com/index.php?s=earthquake
 PopSci: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-07/mits-new-multifunctional-material-adds-piezoelectric-sensitivity-heat-and-light-sensing-fibers
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