General Electric announced today that it's research labs have developed a very simple synthesis for the polymeric precursor, which enables a very efficient path towards ordered non-oxide ceramic nanostructures.
The technology is based on a novel inorganic/organic block copolymer that forms ordered polymeric nanostructures via self-assembly. The resulting material is subsequently pyrolized to yield the desired ceramic, in which the original nanostructure is retained. The unique aspect of the invention is that the desired composition and the ability to form ordered nanostructures are built in. No external template is needed, and the process is simple and robust.
The researchers point out that while damage tolerant high-temperature ceramics could revolutionize product development in aviation and energy, structural applications are still many years away. More immediate applications could result from the ability to prepare high surface area ceramics that could be exploited in catalysis.
Unlike yesterday's nanotech news from HP, this is an example of nanotech that is years or decades from providing true results. However, this is research that can be built upon, and which brings us closer to the truly revolutionary innovations to come.