Feeds

Boffins demo FIVE MICRON internal combustion engine

Honey, I shrunk the cylinder

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?