Tag Archives: materials

Earlier this week, I tweeted about a new paper where an ultrathin (~3 atomic layers) silica glass film was grown on graphene. The group was attempting to study graphene grown on copper-coated quartz, but an air leak changed the reaction conditions, and ended up with pretty cool results. While it’s an impressive result in it’s own right, the structure was predicted in 1932, and it’s amazing how much they look alike. My original reaction to this paper was to geek out over how well theory predicted the results, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the most impressive part was the fact the authors could create the image of the material in the first place. The imaging technology depends on engineers. The bottom image above was taken using annular dark field scanning transmission microscopy, which requires some very complicated and very precise equipment. The STEM used in…

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We’re always trying to eke out more power from less. All the talk about green design and sustainability is really a way in which we can live our lives and power our machines using fewer resources: not just because it’s environmentally friendly but because it’s cheap as well. Compressors play a large role in making our machines more efficient and more powerful. Thermodynamically a compressor is the same thing as a pump only a compressor works on gas or vapor and a pump operates on liquid but both typically increase the pressure of the working fluid. The pump may be increasing the pressure to increase flow but the compressor might be making a vapor more dense for its next stage in the process. The most common compressors are axial flow and centrifugal types. In an engine, a compressor is usually housed in a turbocharger where the purpose is to increase…

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As a mechanical engineer I tend to focus mostly on the mechanisms that actually do the work. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the components that take the work. I’m talking about bearings. They’re so essential for many things with moving systems, from everything to your car to a simple valve. The purpose of a bearing is to allow relative motion with a minimum amount of friction. On that end, the material for the bearing can become an incredibly crucial point. For high stress applications it needs to have good tensile and fatigue strength. But in order to absorb energy and not damage surrounding components you also might want it to be soft and with a low melting point. If you’re dealing in the aerospace industry you can bring in a third complication: weight. Bearings can be anything from a simple roller ball style to a flat plate bearing. Plates can…

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