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Nanotechnology could have prevented Minneapolis bridge collapse

minneapolis_bridge_collapse.jpgAs inspectors sift through the debris of the Minneapolis Interstate 35 bridge collapse, I can’t help but think how nanotechnology could have prevented the tragedy. If a network of nanosensors or microsensors like the ones currently in place on the Golden Gate Bridge had been in place on the Minneapolis bridge, they might have warned of impending failure. Microsensors in place on the Golden Gate Bridge give a real-time, comprehensive picture of the bridge’s performance. They can measure stresses at any point along the structure along with their potential impact on the rest of the bridge.

Nanosensors and microsensors combine low manufacturing costs, compact size, low weight and power consumption, as well as increasing intelligence and multi-functionality. Their market is predicted to grow from $36 billion to $52 billion in 2009. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it grow even faster as engineers look for new ways to prevent disasters like the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

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