Feeds

Boffins demo FIVE MICRON internal combustion engine

Honey, I shrunk the cylinder

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Don't tell fans of big motors, but someone's just created an internal combustion engine of just five cubic microns, burning hydrogen and oxygen.

Getting an engine that small isn't easy. As the researchers, led by the Netherlands' University of Twente's Vitaly Svetovoy, explain in their Nature paper, even the mechanism by which they've managed to get combustion happening is debatable.

“It is not obvious that the reaction in nanobubbles and performance of the microscopic actuator are related. Nevertheless, we speculate that the gas combustion in the chamber happens via combustion in transitional nanobubbles,” they write.

The search for a Liliputian V8 might sound silly, but the researchers say “a fast and strong actuator ... can be applied in microfluidics, micro/nano positioning, or in compact sound/ultrasound emitters”.

The micro-engine

The microengine is somewhere in there — somewhere. Image: Nature

The 100 x 100 micron microengine is fabricated on silicon, with a 530 nm layer of silicon rich nitride (SiRN), and platinum electrodes. The SiRN layer was etched to create the actuator membrane, and the membrane was filled with Na2SO4 in deionized water.

Applying a voltage to the chamber produced hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis, and as the paper puts it, “termination of the gases happens very fast due to spontaneous combustion.” That reaction causes pressure of around 3.6 bar, enough to deflect the actuator by 1.4 microns.

Frequency of the motor is controlled by oscillating the voltage applied to the chamber. The researchers say the actuator was able to operate at frequencies from 5 kHz up to 20 kHz, and 100 kHz is possible, albeit at a lower pressure. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.