Manufacturing Ideas to Watch – Issue 7 (November 2017)

In this issue of Manufacturing Ideas to Watch: Carbon Nanotube Production, Fabrication of 2D Semiconductors, Measuring Strain Fields in Deforming Components, and Additive Manufacturing for Complex Alloys. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment!

Controlled Carbon Nanotube Production in Large Quantities

Diagram of sequestration and catalytic conversion process
Image source: SkyNano Technologies

SkyNano uses a process that converts carbon dioxide to carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes exhibit remarkable properties including impressive mechanical strength, thermal conductivity, and electrical current capacity. The carbon nanotubes with the greatest potential are small diameter single-walled carbon nanotubes, which are difficult to produce in large quantity. SkyNano’s method uses an anode and a cathode to electrochemically reduce carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen, but their breakthrough is in the combination of an inert anode and a catalyst coated cathode, which can produce carbon nanotubes with very small diameters reliably and inexpensively.
Anna Douglas, Vanderbilt University & SkyNano Technologies

Scalable, Single Step Fabrication of 2D Semiconductors on CMOS

Diagram of microfabrication
Image source: Eric Stinaff

In order to be adopted, graphene and other 2D semiconductor materials need to be integrated with current methods of making integrated circuits, such as CMOS. This new method of fabricating 2D semiconductors uses standard microfabrication methods to grow self-contacted and self-aligned devices on CMOS chips in a single step. Parameters such as the type of metal used for the contact, temperature, time, pressure, and precursor quantity, provide means to tailor the growth. This technology has the potential to provide a scalable, front-end compatible, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process to produce complex, conformal, self-contacted 2D materials-based devices. Specific applications for this technology include CMOS 2D materials-based devices, direct on-chip integration of sensors (optical, chemical, etc.), and flexible electronics.
Eric Stinaff, Ohio University

High Performance Tools for Measuring Strain Fields in Deforming Components

Image of deformed item and heat maps of strain
Top: Stereoscopic pair of images of a deformed coupon under combined in-plane rotation and vertical torsion. Bottom: Corresponding full field strain tensor components over the surface of the coupon as produced by DSI. (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory). Image source: Point Semantics Corporation

Direct Strain Imaging™ (DSI) is an improved visual strain measurement technology using single or multiple cameras to track minute movements of dots applied to a component. It is now embodied in a system with precision, sensitivity and real-time data processing throughput that, in addition to standard tests, enables previously difficult tests such as measuring strain tensor component fields in rapidly moving components. Because of these features, as well as its ability to measure strain in components with complex shapes, the system is uniquely suited for post processing inspection and qualification of additively and traditionally manufactured components. This technology was licensed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to Point Semantics for non-destructive evaluation in manufacturing and other disciplines.
– Brad Pantuck, Point Semantics Corporation

Additive Manufacturing for Complex Alloys and Microstructures

Close-up image of shape memory alloy
Image source: Dunand Research Group

This new additive manufacturing method combines extrusion-based 3D-printing and sintering heat-treatments to create magnetic shape-memory alloy foams, wires, and micro-lattices. Shape memory alloys are useful because of their unique combination of low density, stiffness, high surface area, biocompatibility, compressive strength, and ductility. This novel manufacturing method doesn’t use lasers, e-beam, or powder beds, and the solvents allow for fast drying. These attributes open the potential for a manufacturing method that is fast, economical, and enables fine control over features and microstructures. This method has applications for actuators, energy harvesting, sensors, stents, bone implants, and more.
Shannon Taylor, Ramille Shah & David Dunand, Northwestern University

High-strength Conductors Enabled by Covetic Materials

Diagram of Graphene and Silver bonds
Image source: University of Maryland

Covetic materials are metals with about 4% of carbon nanostructures added in a way that leaves them much more thermally and electrically conductive than the metal alone. The carbon also enhances the metals’ oxidation and corrosion resistance and yield strength. Being able to enhance the electrical conductivity of even the best conductors, such as silver and copper, will have tremendous repercussions across the economy by conserving energy. Aluminum, the metal of choice in transmission and distribution cables, is thought capable of up to 40% higher conductivity when modified this way, according to the Department of Energy.
Lourdes G. Salamanca-Riba, University of Maryland at College Park


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