November 16, 2003

New powder will change the world

In his Canberra laboratory, research physicist Dr Ying Chen churns what looks like nothing more than dull, grey powder. But far more precious than gold, the powder, says Dr Chen, will change the world.

He believes it will open the way for making everything from hydrogen-powered cars and the next generation of jetliners to wafer-thin televisions and powerful computers so small you can slip them into your pocket.

And, he says, the energy-efficient technology will help curb the world's craving for power.

Chen's laboratory at the Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering, at the Australian National University, is the world's only commercial source of the extraordinary powder - nanotubes of boron nitride (BN).

Nanotubes are cylinders, just a billionth of a metre wide, that can be assembled to create materials 10 times lighter and 100 times stronger than steel.

Link: smh.com.au

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