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The Sheer Delight of Tackling Shear Stress

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The micro-electric sensor flush mounted into a printed circuit board package.

University of Florida

NASA's commitment to provide aeronautical research opportunities to U.S. universities has led to another success, this time through an inventive student who earned his Ph.D. by creating a tiny sensor that beats anything seen in 20 years. 

Vijay Chandrasekharan is a research associate and doctoral candidate at the University of Florida, where he produced a micro-electronic sensor that measures the amount of shear stress created when turbulent air flows over a surface.

The sensor already has proven its usefulness in improving the basic understanding of turbulent flow in gases and liquids, and in characterizing wind tunnels.

When air flows through a wind tunnel, some air molecules stick to the wall of the tunnel while others flow through at the speed of the wind. The difference in speed exerts a drag force on the wall of the tunnel and causes friction in the air. Drag and friction are related to shear stress.

The new sensor can measure a wider range of shear stress than can any sensor of its type before.

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