Breakthrough for carbon nanotube materials

Breakthrough for carbon nanotube materials
Carbon nanotubes could appear in a wide range of new materials and fabrics.

( -- In collaboration with scientists from the NanoTech Institute of the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) – CSIRO has achieved a major breakthrough in the development of a commercially-viable manufacturing process for a range of materials made from carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes possess a number of qualities – high tensile strength, high flexibility, high electrical and thermal conductivity, and transparency – which have excited great interest in a number of manufacturing industries including the electronic, automotive, energy and clothing industries.

The flexible carbon nanotubes have been spun into ribbons that conduct electricity efficiently – and are five times stronger than steel.

Until now, the application of carbon nanotube technology has been severely limited due to the lack of a cost-efficient method of producing large sheets of carbon nanotube material.

However – as reported in today’s edition of the prestigious international scientific journal, Science – the UTD/CSIRO team recently demonstrated that synthetically made carbon nanotubes can be commercially manufactured into transparent sheets that are stronger than steel sheets of the same weight.

Carbon nanotube materials have a number of potential applications in, for example: organic light emitting displays, low-noise electronic sensors, artificial muscles, conducting appliqués and broad-band polarized light sources that can be switched in one ten-thousandth of a second.

Starting from chemically grown, self-assembled structures in which nanotubes are aligned like trees in a forest, the sheets are produced at up to seven meters per minute. Unlike previous sheet fabrication methods – using dispersions of nanotubes in liquids – this dry-state process produces materials made from the ultra-long nanotubes required to optimise their unique set of properties.

“Rarely is a processing advance so elegantly simple that rapid commercialisation seems possible, and rarely does such an advance so quickly enable diverse application demonstrations”, says Dr Ray H. Baughman of the NanoTech Institute.

“Synergistic aspects of our nanotube sheet and twisted yarn fabrication technologies will likely help accelerate the commercialisation of both technologies, and UTD and CSIRO are working together with companies and government laboratories to bring both technologies to the marketplace.”

Provided by CSIRO

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Citation: Breakthrough for carbon nanotube materials (2008, September 29) retrieved 21 September 2019 from
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Sep 29, 2008
invest invest! lol

Sep 29, 2008
Go the CSIRO but you forgot to tell everyone what the initials stand for.

You may be a household word in Australia but this is an international web site.

For everyone else:

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Sep 30, 2008
They talk about the properties of CNT materials in general, but there is no mention of the qualities of their particular product. No references and links as well.
So where can we find that info?

Sep 30, 2008
That's sweet!

If metallic carbon nanotubes can be grown selectively this way we could make quantum wires in the near term.

Several times the strength to weight ratio of steel and an order of magnitude less resistance than pure copper conductors.

The first application is obviously in space shuttles and satelites where cutting a little bit of weight on the payload saves and awful lot of money on fuel.

When it gets cheap enough we should start to see low weight/high efficiency electrical motors; lighter, tougher and longer power lines and eventually as a cheaper, better and inexhaustible replacement for copper conductors wherever they are used.

Sep 30, 2008
I ,for one, welcome our new carbon nanotube based overlords.

Sep 30, 2008
Where does the information for this story come from? Checking the AAAS website reveals that there is no September 29 issue of "Science." It is published weekly, and the last issue was on September the 26th. The next one won't be until October 3. Moreover, the most recent, September 26 issue contains no such report as you describe. I note also that the study's authors are not named in your reportage. It seems to me it would be good journalistic form, especially among scientists where skepticism is acknowledged as epistemologically fundamental, to report where your information is coming from. Until a study is actually published, I'm obliged to assume this is a hoax.

Sep 30, 2008
That's ridiculous, Scotty discovered this material and called it transparent aluminum in Star Trek 4: the journey home.

Not to jump the gun, but one of the biggest complaints of Fiberglass wings is you cannot magnaflux them to check for early failure signs.

Since these are great conductors could this posibly resolve that issue?

Sep 30, 2008

Sep 30, 2008
Since these are great conductors could this posibly resolve that issue?

Different carbon nanotubes have a different properties. Most are semi-conductors, but some are awesome conductors(knwon as "metallic" carbon nanotubes).

Sep 30, 2008
I ,for one, welcome our new carbon nanotube based overlords.

sp-2 hybridized overlords would have been funnier.

Sep 30, 2008
I would still like to know what the environmental effects of these nanotubes are, before we start mass producing them. Carbon is highly reactive, so we should also investigate whether nanotubes catalyze the formation of unusual molocules. I would also be interested to see if they would tend to ionize their surroundings under for example UV light (which would induce a voltage). I personally have experience with nanofibre metals interacting with sunlight in a closed environment to atomize and recombine atmospheric air into highly toxic NOx varients.

Sep 30, 2008
This is based on a press release recently issued by CSIRO which can be found at: http://www.csiro....13i.html
The report in Science can be found at Science Magazine. 19 August 2005. Pp.1215-1219.

Sep 30, 2008
Sad that this article was published, seems like it is just a publicity stunt for UTD and CSIRO. No doubt it is an interesting and unique process, but the paper was published over three years ago, it is not new. And the lead researcher, Dr. Mai Zhang, is not even with UTD anymore. She is a professor at Florida State University working with the High Performance Materials Institute.

But to axemasters comment on the environmental effects; I agree, we need more studies done. But the bad news is people are already mass producing CNTs. They can be purchased by the kilogram from a number of suppliers.

Oct 01, 2008
Yeah we definitely need more research into safety.

Research done so far clearly indicates that in certain conditions nanotubes are toxic:

Carbon nanotubes have distinctive characteristics, but their needle-like fibre shape has been compared to asbestos, raising concerns that widespread use of carbon nanotubes may lead to mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. Here we show that exposing the mesothelial lining of the body cavity of mice, as a surrogate for the mesothelial lining of the chest cavity, to long multiwalled carbon nanotubes results in asbestos-like, length-dependent, pathogenic behaviour. This includes inflammation and the formation of lesions known as granulomas. This is of considerable importance, because research and business communities continue to invest heavily in carbon nanotubes for a wide range of products under the assumption that they are no more hazardous than graphite. Our results suggest the need for further research and great caution before introducing such products into the market if long-term harm is to be avoided.

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