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Dr Gilberto Brambilla of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at Southampton University, UK, with a laboratory specimen of the nanowire he has developed using 250 micron optical fibre. The transitional 'shoulder' where the fibre has been 'pulled' to a much smaller diameter can be seen. This development is producing highly flexible silica fibres of less than 500nm which have a very high tensile strength combined with a low weight. It has been found that, uniquely, the fibres' strength increases as the diameter decreases. These fibres are expected to have important applications within composite materials used in, for instance, aircraft technology and other fields where the unique weight to strength properties combined with a high degree of flexibility are important.