Nanoscale Materials Breakthrough Offers Ultra Precise Control Over Fire.


A breakthrough process using a nanoscale material coating on target materials offers ultra-precise control over fire, according to newly-published research.

Numerous industrial processes utilize the unique properties of fire, but controlling where and how the flames deliver their heat is still a challenge. If proven effective, the new process could lead to additional breakthroughs in materials science and engineering, affecting a wide range of commercial industries.

“Fire is a valuable engineering tool – after all, a blast furnace is only an intense fire,” explains Martin Thuo, a professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University and one of the authors of the paper outlining their process. “However, once you start a fire, you often have little control over how it behaves.”

Specifically, directing the heat of a fire to precise locations and at precision temperatures for customized fabrication remains a challenge, especially when working with flammable or delicate materials. Now, Thuo and his researchers say they have developed a novel process that allows them to exert significantly more precision control over fire, particularly in how fire delivers its heat energy during the fabrication process, opening up a whole new world of customized material fabrication.

Nanoscale Materials Divert and Channel Fire’s Heat Energy

Called inverse thermal degradation (ITDs), the process outlined in their published research involves coating the material you want to expose to fire for manipulation with a nanometer-thick layer of specific molecules. In this case, the researchers used a material known as alkyl silanes. Normally constructed using single atoms of silicone connected to form a sheet, alkyl silanes have an almost magical property when it comes to their interaction with fire; they turn into glass.

“Our technique, which we call inverse thermal degradation (ITD), employs a nanoscale thin film over a…

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