Nav: Home

The lightest shielding material in the world

July 02, 2020

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic components or the transmission of signals. High-frequency electromagnetic fields can only be shielded with conductive shells that are closed on all sides. Often thin metal sheets or metallized foils are used for this purpose. However, for many applications such a shield is too heavy or too poorly adaptable to the given geometry. The ideal solution would be a light, flexible and durable material with extremely high shielding effectiveness.

Aerogels against electromagnetic radiation

A breakthrough in this area has now been achieved by a research team led by Zhihui Zeng and Gustav Nyström. The researchers are using nanofibers of cellulose as the basis for an aerogel, which is a light, highly porous material. Cellulose fibres are obtained from wood and, due to their chemical structure, enable a wide range of chemical modifications. They are therefore a highly popular research object. The crucial factor in the processing and modification of these cellulose nanofibres is to be able to produce certain microstructures in a defined way and to interpret the effects achieved. These relationships between structure and properties are the very field of research of Nyström's team at Empa.

The researchers have succeeded in producing a composite of cellulose nanofibers and silver nanowires, and thereby created ultra-light fine structures which provide excellent shielding against electromagnetic radiation. The effect of the material is impressive: with a density of only 1.7 milligrams per cubic centimeter, the silver-reinforced cellulose aerogel achieves more than 40 dB shielding in the frequency range of high-resolution radar radiation (8 to 12 GHz) - in other words: Virtually all radiation in this frequency range is intercepted by the material.

Ice crystals control the shape

Not only the correct composition of cellulose and silver wires is decisive for the shielding effect, but also the pore structure of the material. Within the pores, the electromagnetic fields are reflected back and forth and additionally trigger electromagnetic fields in the composite material, which counteract the incident field. To create pores of optimum size and shape, the researchers pour the material into pre-cooled moulds and allow it to freeze out slowly. The growth of the ice crystals creates the optimum pore structure for damping the fields.

With this production method, the damping effect can even be specified in different spatial directions: If the material freezes out in the mould from bottom to top, the electromagnetic damping effect is weaker in the vertical direction. In the horizontal direction - i.e. perpendicular to the freezing direction - the damping effect is optimized. Shielding structures cast in this way are highly flexible: even after being bent back and forth a thousand times, the damping effect is practically the same as with the original material. The desired absorption can even be easily adjusted by adding more or less silver nanowires to the composite, as well as by the porosity of the cast aerogel and the thickness of the cast layer.

The lightest electromagnetic shield in the world

In another experiment, the researchers removed the silver nanowires from the composite material and connected their cellulose nanofibres with two-dimensional nanoplates of titanium carbide, which were produced using a special etching process. The nanoplates act like hard "bricks" that are joined together with flexible "mortar" made of cellulose fibers. This formulation was also frozen in cooled forms in a targeted manner. In relation to the weight of the material, no other material can achieve such shielding. This ranks the titanium carbide nanocellulose aerogel as by far the lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world.
-end-


Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)

Related Radiation Articles:

What membrane can do in dealing with radiation
USTC recently found that polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can release acidic substance under γ radiation, whose amount is proportional to the radiation intensity.
First measurements of radiation levels on the moon
In the current issue (25 September) of the prestigious journal Science Advances, Chinese and German scientists report for the first time on time-resolved measurements of the radiation on the moon.
New biomaterial could shield against harmful radiation
Northwestern University researchers have synthesized a new form of melanin enriched with selenium.
A new way to monitor cancer radiation therapy doses
More than half of all cancer patients undergo radiation therapy and the dose is critical.
Nimotuzumab-cisplatin-radiation versus cisplatin-radiation in HPV negative oropharyngeal cancer
Oncotarget Volume 11, Issue 4: In this study, locally advanced head and neck cancer patients undergoing definitive chemoradiation were randomly allocated to weekly cisplatin - radiation {CRT arm} or nimotuzumab -weekly cisplatin -radiation {NCRT arm}.
Breaking up amino acids with radiation
A new experimental and theoretical study published in EPJ D has shown how the ions formed when electrons collide with one amino acid, glutamine, differ according to the energy of the colliding electrons.
Radiation breaks connections in the brain
One of the potentially life-altering side effects that patients experience after cranial radiotherapy for brain cancer is cognitive impairment.
Fragmenting ions and radiation sensitizers
The anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5FU) acts as a radiosensitizer: it is rapidly taken up into the DNA of cancer cells, making the cells more sensitive to radiotherapy.
'Seeing the light' behind radiation therapy
Delivering just the right dose of radiation for cancer patients is a delicate balance in their treatment regime.
Radiation contamination at a crematorium
Radioactive compounds known as radiopharmaceuticals are used in nuclear medicine procedures to diagnose and treat disease.
More Radiation News and Radiation Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.