Carbon nanotubes twice as strong as once thought

Sep 15, 2010

Carbon nanotubes -- those tiny particles poised to revolutionize electronics, medicine, and other areas — are much bigger in the strength department than anyone ever thought, scientists are reporting.

New studies on the strength of these submicroscopic cylinders of carbon indicate that on an ounce-for-ounce basis they are at least 117 times stronger than steel and 30 times stronger than Kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests and other products. The findings, which could expand commercial and industrial applications of nanotube materials, appear in the monthly journal .

Stephen Cronin and colleagues point out that nanotubes — barely 1/50,000th the width of a human hair — have been renowned for exceptional strength, high electrical conductivity, and other properties. Nanotubes can stretch considerably like toffee before breaking. This makes them ideal for a variety of futuristic applications, even, if science fiction ever become reality, as cables in "space elevators" that lift objects from the Earth's surface into orbit.

To resolve uncertainties about the actual strength of nanotubes, the scientists applied immense tension to individual carbon nanotubes of different lengths and widths. They found that nanotubes could be stretched up to 14 percent of their normal length without breaking, or more than twice that of previous reports by others. The finding establishes "a new lower limit for the ultimate strength of carbon nanotubes," the article noted.

Explore further: Scientists fabricate defect-free graphene, set record reversible capacity for Co3O4 anode in Li-ion batteries

More information: "A New Lower Limit for the Ultimate Breaking Strain of Carbon Nanotubes", ACS Nano.

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Deadbolt
1 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2010
What do they mean by stronger? Is it just tensile strength?

How much stronger are they when facing impacts? Do nanotubes survive better than steel in those cases?
that_guy
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2010
What do they mean by stronger? Is it just tensile strength?

How much stronger are they when facing impacts? Do nanotubes survive better than steel in those cases?

Consider your question deadbolt. What is the compression strength of dust? (Nanotubes are the size of dust particles) I think a reasonable person would assume that they're talking about tensile strength, because quantifying nanotubes in compression strength would be asinine. tensile strength is one factor in toughness, and if it were included in a properly designed composite, using carbon nanotubes could provide superior impact survivability than steel or kevlar.
Husky
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
does that mean we can have a space elevator for halve the material?
MarkyMark
not rated yet Sep 16, 2010
does that mean we can have a space elevator for halve the material?

Pretty much maybee even a lot less. Work it out yourself, we know the strength of steel cable now work out what cabling would be needed for a steel space elivator then using whats known about the times that nanotubes are stronger than that to replace the cabling alone [it could be used for other components too]then see the material ammount difference.

On a side note concrete toweres use steel supports to give height and stabilaty immagine what heights would be achieved if such materials could one day replace steel for such uses or at least augiment the steel beams like concrete blocks are augamented by steel rods?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Sep 16, 2010
What kind of a sentence is this?:
have been renowned for exceptional strength, high electrical conductivity, and other properties.


Yeah,...soap has 'other properties', too. Amazing, really, what properties stuff can have.
AGTG
not rated yet Sep 19, 2010
What do they mean by stronger? Is it just tensile strength?

Yes its tensile, not compressive, strength they mentioned. Also, the original reference article mentioned "...Strain..." which means tension in engineering jargon. 8^D
"A New Lower Limit for the Ultimate Breaking Strain of Carbon Nanotubes"