The Solar Powered Paper Airplane

A new organic coating turns paper into solar panels and nanoparticles into nanotubes known as microworms

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Chemical engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on a new type of thin polymer film that is cheap, flexible, and opens up a whole new realm of products. For example, you could put solar cells on a paper airplane. A little more useful are nanotubes  that could be implanted under the skin to monitor chemical changes in the body—such as blood sugar levels. In a paper published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe the creation of a coating with microscopic pores. They called the long, hollow nanoparticles “microworms.” Host Steven Cherry talks with coauthor Karen Gleason, a professor of chemical engineering and an associate dean of engineering at MIT

This interview was recorded 8 March 2011.
Segment producer: Ariel Bleicher; audio engineer: Francesco Ferorelli
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