Researchers report progress in development of carbon nanotube-based continuous fibers

Jul 24, 2012 By Karen B. Roberts
From left, Tsu-Wei Chou, Amanda Wu and Weibang Lu in Spencer Laboratory. Credit: Kathy F. Atkinson

(Phys.org) -- The Chou research group in the University of Delaware's College of Engineering recently reported on advances in carbon nanotube-based continuous fibers with invited articles in Advanced Materials and Materials Today, two high impact scientific journals.

According to Tsu-Wei Chou, Pierre S. du Pont Chair of Engineering, who co-authored the articles with colleagues Weibang Lu and Amanda Wu, there has been a concerted scientific effort over the last decade to “go big” – to translate the superb physical and mechanical properties of nanoscale carbon nanotubes to the macroscale.

The result, he says, has been the development of continuous comprised solely of carbon nanotubes held together through local entanglements and van der Waals forces, a type of weak molecular interactions.

“Despite a discontinuous microstructure, these carbon nanotube fibers exhibit strengths comparable to current high performance fibers with significantly lower densities, creating new avenues for ultra-light weight multifunctional composite and structures,” explains Chou.

“Furthermore, their flexibility and electrical conductivity have gained attention and given rise to the potential for carbon nanotube fibers to serve as embedded strain and damage sensors.” 

The challenge, however, remains how to scale up the material’s size without sacrificing performance and functionality. 

Lu's article, published in , provides an in-depth analysis of the current carbon nanotube fiber processing methodology, including drawbacks and potential avenues for improvement. The article offers a thorough comparison of the current physical, electrical and mechanical properties of carbon nanotube fibers.

Wu's article, published in Materials Today, details the recent experimental characterization of carbon nanotube fibers performed by the Chou group. The review emphasizes the dynamic electromechanical behavior of nanotube fibers and explores opportunities for fibers in advanced composite applications.

Explore further: Existence of two-dimensional nanomaterial silicene questioned

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Nanostitching' could strengthen airplane skins, more

Mar 04, 2009

MIT engineers are using carbon nanotubes only billionths of a meter thick to stitch together aerospace materials in work that could make airplane skins and other products some 10 times stronger at a nominal ...

Carbon Nanotubes Toughen a Common Plastic

Apr 07, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A research group from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has discovered that adding carbon nanotubes to a widely used commercial plastic can greatly strengthen it. Their work is one ...

Carbon nanotube forest camouflages 3-D objects

Nov 21, 2011

Carbon nanotubes, tiny cylinders composed of one-atom-thick carbon lattices, have gained fame as one of the strongest materials known to science. Now a group of researchers from the University of Michigan ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0