February 7, 2007

Ford to accelerate research into lighter-weight metals and plastics

Evanston, Illinois – The Ford Motor Company has announced that it is using one of North America’s most advanced laboratory devices to accelerate its nanotechnology research into lighter weight metals and plastics with greater strength, ultimately helping to improve safety and fuel economy in cars and trucks.

The device, called the Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP), is housed at Northwestern University and is one of only four such tools in North America. The tool enables researchers to cut in half the time required to analyze the molecular makeup of metals and plastics, and determine ways to tailor the material to make lighter weight and more durable parts.

Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating materials at the atomic or molecular level, and is used in pharmaceuticals, electronics and optics. It is a set of methods, tools and materials to make better-performing products. Its use in the automotive industry holds the most promise and is expected to grow; experts predict that by 2015, nanomaterials will reach 70 per cent usage in automotive applications, with revenues reaching almost US$7 billion.

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