The objectives of this research award are to synthesize tiny, slender pieces of boron-based materials (nanofilaments) and to measure their electrical, optical, and mechanical properties. The nanofilaments will be created under controlled conditions by depositing materials in special atmospheres using energy provided by a laser. Subsequent experiments conducted on the nanofilaments will determine a variety of properties including their size, shape, electrical resistance, and mechanical strength. A unique feature of this program is that the changes in the properties of the nanofilaments when they are deformed will be determined. The deliverables for this program include the identification of the processing conditions that create particular kinds of nanofilaments, and their mechanical, electrical, and optical properties. Additionally, the researchers will document their results, educate engineering students, and introduce high school students to nanoscience through a summer camp.
If successful, this award will provide the basis for a new generation of nanoenabled devices and composites. The resulting materials could have physical properties superior to traditional boron filaments and will be easier to use in composites. Potential applications include ultralight and conductive composites for cell phone housings, electromagnetic shielding, and aerospace structures. The results of the research will be disseminated to facilitate the introduction of these materials into both existing and new commercial products. Undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students involved with the program will benefit from classroom instruction and the research process. Additionally, high school students will participate in a summer program that will give them a hands-on experience that will heighten their interest in the sciences and technical careers.