MIT’s New Multilayered Optical Fibers that Carry Electricity and Light
By July 15th, 2010Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:27 on
A group of MIT scientists headed by Professor of materials science and engineering Yoel Fink, have developed a new multifunctional material that carries both electricity and light. The fibers could be used to create biomedical devices, smart textiles that monitor the body or structural sensors that are able to detect even the smallest stresses on a structure.
The MIT team created this new fiber from heat sensitive and light sensitive materials. Then they added piezoelectric functionality to convert mechanical changes in shape to electric signals and vice versa.
Their goal was to create a material that would heat and stretch uniformly and still retain its crystalline piezoelectric structures. To do that, they had to melt and stretch the polymers and polycarbonates at similar temperatures.
The finished fiber has a piezoelectric layer, a core that can carry light and vibrations which generate an electrical signal, while electrical signals can be used to elicit mechanical changes in the fiber or cause vibrations that in turn can even be turned into acoustic waves.
According to scientists, such fibers will have a variety of applications in the future. For example they could be inserted into carpets to count the number of people walking across them or into the cardiovascular system to monitor for biomarkers or blood flow.
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