Selectively Welding Nanofibers with Light
Welding has been an important process for centuries as metal-smiths have used it to combine different metals together. Now more than just metals are welded together for different reasons and using different techniques. Researchers at North Carolina State University have recently developed a new means to weld together nanofibers using light and gold nanorods, which may lead to stronger materials.
Gold nanoparticles are useful tools as they have special optical properties, which the researchers have taken advantage of in this research by using gold nanorods. In this case the researcher have made the nanorods to react to either 520 nm light or 800 nm light, depending on the alignment of the nanorods and the polarization of the light. This selective reactivity is the key to the welding method the researchers created because the rods have been aligned with the nanofibers they have been embedded in, so a laser with one frequency will weld the nanofibers going in only one direction, instead of all of the fibers containing the gold nanorods.
This discovery could prove very useful for manufacturing advanced materials as it should allow for a material's physical properties to be changed post-production, which is cheaper and more efficient than doing so during production.
Source: North Carolina State University