The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Applications of Nanotechnology for Cycling are Not Restricted to Just the Bike

Where price is not always a problem, cycling offers a number of applications for nanotechnology

2 min read

Last September I took a cursory look at the use of nanotechnology in bicycles, and drew the somewhat hesitant conclusion that it may be more about marketing than actually improving the qualities of the bike.

My extremely unscientific piece was picked up by the Cozy Beehive blog, which is penned by a mechanical engineer and a lover of cycling. I am great admirer of this blog since I am a cycling fan myself and I was really pleased to say the least that he picked up my entry.

Since blogs are usually read by people with at least the same interest as those who write them and often by those who share the same opinion, Cozy’s blog was commented on by other mechanical engineers and cycling enthusiasts and their comments were illuminating.

One comment suggested that carbon nanotubes are unlikely to help in protecting carbon fiber frames from cracking:

“Carbon Nanotubes are all well and good, but I don’t think the failure mechanism for bikes is addressed by them. In general, when a carbon frame fails it is not some small crack propagation issue that would have been solved by micro-fibers mixed into the resin. It is rather a catastrophic failure of the resin in compression, which leads to complete crumple type failures. Nanotubes do little to address resin/laminate compression strength. I could see fatigue life of a frame increasing from their use, but should we really by using our frames anywhere near their fatigue life?”

That may help answer the question of what nanoparticles can do for improving the characteristics of bike frame materials, but as the nanotechnology community knows nanotech has many applications from structural materials to textiles.

In the video below we see that the cycling apparel company Castelli is now using a water repellent material that appears to be sourced from Schoeller Technologies that is famous for its Nano Sphere technology.

At least in this application, the benefit is clear and undeniable.

The Conversation (0)

Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.

Avicena

If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

Keep Reading ↓Show less