Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Nano Technology News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

NIST invents fleet and fast test for nanomanufacturing quality control
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 13, 2016

Measurements of electrical properties of a plastic tape (yellow), taken using a specially designed microwave cavity (the white cylinder at center) and accompanying electrical circuit, change quickly and consistently in response to changes in the tape's thickness. The setup is inspired by high-volume roll-to-roll manufacturing devices used to mass-produce nanomaterials. The changes in the tape's thickness spell NIST in Morse code. Image courtesy NIST/Nathan Orloff. Watch a video on the research here.

Manufacturers may soon have a speedy and nondestructive way to test a wide array of materials under real-world conditions, thanks to an advance that researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have made in roll-to-roll measurements. Roll-to-roll measurements are typically optical measurements for roll-to-roll manufacturing, any method that uses conveyor belts for continuous processing of items, from tires to nanotechnology components.

In order for new materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene to play an increasingly important role in electronic devices, high-tech composites and other applications, manufacturers will need quality-control tests to ensure that products have desired characteristics, and lack flaws. Current test procedures often require cutting, scratching or otherwise touching a product, which slows the manufacturing process and can damage or even destroy the sample being tested.

To add to existing testing non-contact methods, NIST physicists Nathan Orloff, Christian Long and Jan Obrzut measured properties of films by passing them through a specially designed metal box known as a microwave cavity. Electromagnetic waves build up inside the cavity at a specific "resonance" frequency determined by the box's size and shape, similar to how a guitar string vibrates at a specific pitch depending on its length and tension.

When an object is placed inside the cavity, the resonance frequency changes in a way that depends on the object's size, electrical resistance and dielectric constant, a measure of an object's ability to store energy in an electric field. The frequency change is reminiscent of how shortening or tightening a guitar string makes it resonate at a higher pitch, says Orloff.

The researchers also built an electrical circuit to measure these changes. They first tested their device by running a strip of plastic tape known as polyimide through the cavity, using a roll-to-roll setup resembling high-volume roll-to-roll manufacturing devices used to mass-produce nanomaterials. (See video.) As the tape's thickness increased and decreased - the researchers made the changes in tape thickness spell "NIST" in Morse code - the cavity's resonant frequency changed in tandem.

So did another parameter called the "quality factor," which is the ratio of the energy stored in the cavity to the energy lost per frequency cycle. Because polyimide's electrical properties are well known, a manufacturer could use the cavity measurements to monitor whether tape is coming off the production line at a consistent thickness - and even feeding back information from the measurements to control the thickness.

Alternatively, a manufacturer could use the new method to monitor the electrical properties of a less well-characterized material of known dimensions. Orloff and Long demonstrated this by passing 12- and 15-centimeter-long films of carbon nanotubes deposited on sheets of plastic through the cavity and measuring the films' electrical resistance. The entire process took "less than a second," says Orloff. He added that with industry-standard equipment, the measurements could be taken at speeds beyond 10 meters per second, more than enough for many present-day manufacturing operations.

The new method has several advantages for a thin-film manufacturer, says Orloff. One, "You can measure the entire thing, not just a small sample," he said. Such real-time measurements could be used to tune the manufacturing process without shutting it down, or to discard a faulty batch of product before it gets out the factory door. "This method could significantly boost prospects of not making a faulty batch in the first place," Long noted.

And because the method is nondestructive, Orloff added, "If a batch passes the test, manufacturers can sell it."

Films of carbon nanotubes and graphene are just starting to be manufactured in bulk for potential applications such as composite airplane materials, smartphone screens and wearable electronic devices.

Orloff, Long and Obrzut submitted a patent application for this technique in December 2015.

A producer of such materials has already expressed interest in the new method, said Orloff. "They're really excited about it." He added that the method is not specific to nanomanufacturing, and with a properly designed cavity, could also help with quality control of many other kinds of products, including tires, pharmaceuticals and even beer.


Related Links
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Nano Technology News From
Computer Chip Architecture, Technology and Manufacture

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Building a better mouse trap, from the atoms up
Storrs CT (SPX) Mar 11, 2016
For most of human history, the discovery of new materials has been a crapshoot. But now, UConn researchers have systematized the search with machine learning that can scan millions of theoretical compounds for qualities that would make better solar cells, fibers, and computer chips. The search for new materials may never be the same. No one knows why an early metallurgist decided to smelt ... read more

Australia pursues buoyancy system for helicopters

L-3 performing depot-level maintenance on F/A-18s

New find of suspected MH370 debris to be sent to Australia

Boeing, Paramount developing weaponized surveillance plane

China's ambition after space station

Sky is the limit for China's national strategy

Aim Higher: China Plans to Send Rover to Mars in 2020

China's lunar probe sets record for longest stay

N. Korea slams Seoul's cyber attack accusations

US argues for 'modest' Apple help in attacks probe

In Apple vs FBI case, compromise appears elusive

Pentagon invites hackers to attack its websites

Long march in Bangladesh against Sundarbans power plant

China emissions goals less ambitious than 2015 cuts: plan

Europe 2030: Energy saving to become 'first fuel'

New model maps energy usage of every building in Boston

Hundred million degree fluid key to fusion

Multi-scale simulations solve a plasma turbulence mystery

Plasma processing technique takes SNS accelerator to new energy highs

100 million-degree fluid essential to fusion

Ford offers police greater ballistic protection for vehicles

DynCorp wins U.S. intelligence support contract

Factory for Ajax armored vehicles inaugurated

New mortars for Ukraine military

Building a better mouse trap, from the atoms up

From backyard pool chemical to nanomaterial

Nanoparticles on nanosteps

Thermal measurements with nanometer resolution

Coming to a hotel near you: the robot humanoid receptionist

In emergencies, should you trust a robot

Watch Google's AlphaGo computer take on world's best Go player

Engineered swarmbots rely on peers for survival

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.