From the ever-diligent Charles Q. Choi, on work by physicist Shubhra Gangopadhyay at the University of Missouri at Columbia: “The researchers [have] coated devices made of glass with a mixture of nanoparticle fuel such as aluminum and oxidizer such as iron oxide. The nanoparticle quality of the fuel and oxidizer provides far greater surface area for explosive reactions than a conventional mixture would. When ignited, the nanoparticle combination releases a tremendous amount of thermal and mechanical energy…Their device could generate pulses of energy in only fractions of a second, of potential use in defense applications such as initiating explosives. This power could also be stored for later use in portable electronics, much like batteries. The shock waves might also find use in medical devices, to destroy kidney stones perhaps, Gangopadhyay explained.”

But it sounds like daunting challenges remain: ” ‘We need to perform a thorough study to reduce the energy needed to initiate the chemical reaction. We also need to design a chip to sustain energy generation for a longer time period and store it properly for later use,’ she added.” She’s starting a company: NEMS & MEMS Works, LLC.

Question for readers: does this sound practical? –CP

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