Nader Jalili's "smart" tires may change shape to respond to varying road conditions, thanks to embedded piezo-electric materials he is developing.
Present Position: Asst. Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University
Degrees: B.Sc., M.Sc., Mechanical Engineering, Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran); Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Connecticut
What is the goal of your research?
To make a better sensor and actuator from nanomaterials to be used on the tires and body of a car.
How do the "smart" tires work?
"Smart" tires have built-in piezoelectric-based sensors and actuators in the form of patches that can be cured or bounded to rubber materials in the tire. If anything happens to a tire—if it is defective or pressure is lost—the patch sensor detects this and sends information to the engine control unit in the car; the actuator then activates the piezoelectric material and makes changes to the tire to correct the problem temporarily.
How will the driver of a car know about any tire modulations made?
The driver receives a signal, like a gas indicator, that a tire modulation has occurred. This information is in the research stage, but in the future, we expect that the signal will indicate what the exact tire problem is.
How did you develop this concept?
It originated from the discovery of piezoelectric properties in nanotubes (early 2000), in which we realized we could use those properties to build macroscopic sensors and actuators comprised of functional nanomaterials. The project has been funded through the NSF CAREER program and through Michelin.
Any other applications? They have the potential to be used in future nano-scale robotics; in creating next-generation nano-scale pumps and nano-engines; and in other scientific uses like vibration control, biomedical applications, and power generation applications.
For info on Dr. Jalili's research, go to http://people.clemson.edu/~jalili/. For images of his research, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/3856-503. Contact Jalili at firstname.lastname@example.org.