Web edition: January 13, 2012
Print edition: January 28, 2012; Vol.181 #2 (p. 4)
“SPACE WHISKERS” GROWN FOR NEW SPACE MATERIALS — Microscopically small “space whiskers” are being grown by scientists at Rocketdyne, a division of North American Aviation, Inc., Canoga Park, Calif., in search of methods of producing extremely strong new space materials. The fine filament-like crystals are being grown from many materials — lead, tin, copper, graphite, sapphire and even table salt. The tensile strength of the crystals reaches the level of millions of pounds because of the extraordinary perfection of their structure.... Some grow from a base like human whiskers, others grow by piling up atoms on the tip. Sapphire whiskers, seen on the front cover, are most desirable. They not only have great strength but they also have a high melting point and are resistant to oxygen.