Skip to main content
Intellect

Scientists grow micro-machines (and "nano Jimmer") from carbon

A Brigham Young University physics student and his professor had some fun with their new method of growing tiny machines from carbon molecules.

We’ve seen some creative ways of making tiny BYU logos before, like engraving these nano-sized letters in silica and shaping these even smaller letters from DNA strands. But growing a nano-logo? That’s probably a first on campus.

Here is how BYU physics professor Robert Davis and his student Taylor Wood do it: They start by patterning the iron seeds of the logo onto an iron plate. Next they send heated gas flowing across the surface, and a forest of carbon nano-tubes springs up.

“It’s a really fragile structure at this point – blowing on it or touching it would destroy it,” Davis said. “We developed a process to coat and strengthen the tubes so that we can make microstructures that have practical applications.”

Another student, Jun Song, used the process to make devices that quickly and neatly separate the various chemicals contained in a solution. The technique is detailed by the BYU physicists in a new study published in the scientific journal Advanced Functional Materials.

As demonstrated in the paper, their approach using carbon nanotubes is more precise than current chemical separation methods because it gives more control over the channels that the fluids flow through. That’s why the company US Synthetic licensed the commercial rights from BYU.

Designing little logos and separating chemicals isn’t all the BYU researchers are doing, either. They’re also building several kinds of micro-machines including actuators, switches and humidity-detecting cantilevers. Next on their agenda is to create filtration devices. Another company, Moxtek, also entered into a licensing agreement with BYU for applications to their X-ray windows.

“The technology is moving in a lot of directions,” said Davis.

Physics professor Richard Vanfleet and chemistry professor Matthew Linford also contributed to the project and appear as co-authors on the new study. Two researchers from US Synthetic also appear as co-authors.  

See more of their work at nano.byu.edu.

Related Articles
data-content-type="article"
September 20, 2019
What started out as an opportunity for extra credit in one of his BYU classes led to a month-long, all-expenses-paid trip to China: a “pretty sweet trophy and a very good scholarship.” BYU senior Josh Robinson entered a BYU competition as a chance to get extra credit and won. Then he advanced to the multi-national competition and nabbed the top spot there to earn a seat at the global contest, the Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
September 17, 2019
Just making the list could cost your company millions in value
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
By Sara Jane Aubrey
September 11, 2019
Previous studies found having adverse childhood experiences can lead to poor health outcomes later in life. New BYU research finds the antidote is to counter those with enough positive experiences.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText=