La Recherche - May 2011

May 24, 2011

Antidefects nanotubes

[Translation from French] Nanotubes to visualize defects of damaged airplane or wind turbine pieces:  such is the vision of some physicists at MIT, in the US. They used the fact that nanotubes heat up when in the path of an electric current. By integrating them into composite materials, such as those used in turbine blades, they manufactured parts whose defects can be detected by an infrared camera. In this picture, MIT’s letters have been engraved on a sample of this material, weakening it on some spots. The application of an electric current between the borders of the piece reveal its weaknesses: the red parts above and below the M. Those defects are visible because they disturb the current flow locally, concentrating it on the nanotubes which then heat up.