Researchers at Purdue University, working with the U.S Air Force, have developed tiny wireless sensors resilient enough to survive the harsh conditions inside jet engines to detect when critical bearings are close to failing and prevent breakdowns.

The devices use MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology to achieve a combination of tiny size and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures - up to 300 degrees C or 572 degrees F. They provide early detection of impending failure by directly monitoring the temperature of engine bearings, whereas conventional sensors work indirectly by monitoring the temperature of engine oil, yielding less specific data.

The sensors could be in use in a few years in military aircraft such as fighter jets and helicopters. The technology also has potential applications in commercial aircraft and cars.

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