A new design
Nikhil Gupta is an associate professor in the Composite Materials and Mechanics Laboratory of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. The author contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
To get a handle on what makes the 2014 World Cup's Adidas Brazuca football so special, materials expert Nikhil Gupta decided to take one apart and magnify the layers under a scanning electron microscope.
These images from the laboratory analysis show incredible sophistication went into the ball's design, including six layers of composites and other materials.
The findings are explained in further detail in the video Science Bakes a Safer Soccer Ball.
From the inside out
A cut section from the Adidas Brazuca ball. The black layer is the bladder.
The Adidas Brazuca ball cut open and magnified using an electron microscope. The ball is made of two foam layers and two layers of fiber-reinforced composites, sandwiched between the bladder and the skin.
The closed-cell foam layer inside Brazuca ball. This type of foam is also called syntactic foam. All the cells are separate from each other and there is no interconnectivity, keeping moisture from permeating the material.
A magnified view showing open and closed cell foams separated by a layer of fiber reinforced composite in the Adidas Brazuca ball.
What you see
Surface texture on the Brazuca ball. The texture is expected to help in guiding the air flow on the surface when the ball is kicked to long distances, and to keep the trajectory stable.
[Read more: Peering Inside the World Cup's Brazuca Ball (Op-Ed)]
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