Germanium ’tissue paper’ could stop a bullet, power an iPod

April 28th, 2010 - 6:44 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 28 (ANI): Tissue paper could soon be used to make bulletproof vests and harness solar energy, suggests a new American research.

Tissue paper, made from normally brittle germanium and silicon, contains individual fibres that are as strong as bulletproof Kevlar.

These germanium nanowires could block bullets and draw solar energy if they are woven into traditional fabric or embedded in hard plastics.

“Paper is made of wood fibers compressed together,” Discovery News quoted study co-author Brian Korgel, a scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, as saying.

“In this case, we took bulk semiconductors, turned them into nanowires and compressed them together to make a material with a tissue paper consistency.”

Germanium is generally quite hard and brittle.

Korgel said: “When I handle a block of the bulk material, I have to handle it very carefully so it doesn’t break.”

But germanium tissue paper is flexible and doesn’t break when bent.

The tissue paper’s individual nanowires are also quite strong and have a similar strength-to-weight ratio as Kevlar.

Moreover, they are capable of absorbing blows that would ordinarily shatter a germanium block.

However, the development of bulletproof vests from germanium wires may not come easy.

Kevlar blocks bullets because its individual fibbers are strong and so are the bonds between the fibers.

But individual germanium nanowires are not there yet.

Korgel and his teams also want to use the new fabric’s semiconducting properties for harnessing solar power.

Korgel’s research has appeared in a new paper in ACS Nano. (ANI)

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