TEXAS TECH NANOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH PUBLISHED IN "SCIENCE"
March 30, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 17, 2005
CONTACT: Scott Slemmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
LUBBOCK - "Science," the international weekly scientific magazine, will publish a
paper written by two Texas Tech University professors.
Gregory McKenna, Horn professor of chemical engineering, and Paul O'Connell, research
professor of chemical engineering, wrote an article examining the properties of polymeric
(plastic) materials at the sub-micron size.
McKenna said Texas Tech's research is important for the fields of computer development
and manufacture and for nanotechnology, or the science of building electronic circuits
and devices from single atoms and molecules.
According to McKenna, he and O'Connell discovered that the properties of certain polymer
materials are much different at the microscopic scale than they are at larger scales.
"At the nano scale, we're finding that the rubbery plateau, which governs how stretchy
or elastic a material can become, is actually a couple hundred times stiffer than
it is at the macro scale," said McKenna.
McKenna said the discovery could eventually lead to faster-running and less-expensive
"In nanotech, people are trying to use these materials at these very small size scales,"
said McKenna. "So the electronics industry has to make polymer films at that size
scale to make computers run faster. If the properties are changing at the nano scale,
then the material may not function as expected. So when you engineer new devices,
it may not function properly the first time around, which increases the cost of manufacturing
McKenna also said the research broke new ground by taking more precise measurements
of material properties at the nano scale.
"We developed a method which gives us absolute measurements at the nano scale for
mechanical properties, and that hasn't been done before," McKenna said. "Other measurements
have been relative. This is important when you test theories that may say that bulk
behavior is different than nano-scale behavior, but if you don't have absolute comparisons,
it's very hard to determine that."
The technique developed by McKenna and O'Connell required them to inflate and accurately
measure bubbles in very thin polymer films