New technique leads to creation of elastic high-strength carbon nanotube film

February 4, 2016 by Bob Yirka, report
New technique leads to creation of elastic high-strength carbon nanotube film

(—A new technique developed by researchers at East China University of Science and Technology and Shanghai Jiao Tong University has led to the development of a high-strength carbon nanotube film that retains much of the elasticity of native carbon nanotubes. In their paper published in the journal Nano Letters, the team describes their technique and the characteristics of the materials they made.

Ever since researchers discovered that creating sheets made of single layers of grown in a tub shape resulted in a material with exceptional electronic and , the search has been on to find a way to produce a material made of them in bulk, in a way that does not cause them to lose some of their exceptional properties. In this new effort the combined team in China has developed a method that allows for creating such a material while retaining most of its elastic and other properties. The result is a material that looks like a thick black plastic trash bag. But looks can be deceiving, the material has been found to be significantly stronger than both Kevlar and carbon fiber.

Prior attempts to make such a material have left a lot to be desired because they failed to keep the nanotubes aligned in the final product. The new approach overcomes that problem by using nitrogen gas to push single layers of carbon nanotubes along a tube surface inside of a 2,100 degree oven. As the material is removed from the oven, it is wound around a drum and then compressed further by running it through rollers. The result is a material that the team tested at a tensile strength of 9.6 gigapascals, which is approximately five times as strong as any other material made of carbon nanotubes. In contrast, fibers have been tested to 7 gigapascals and Kevlar to just 3.7. As if that were not enough, the material was also shown able to elongate approximately 8 percent, which is far more than the 2 percent for .

The team believes the new material would be suitable for use in wearable devices and possibly in artificial muscles and perhaps as a component in protective clothing for soldiers or athletes.

Explore further: Move aside carbon: Boron nitride-reinforced materials are even stronger

More information: Wei Xu et al. High-Strength Carbon Nanotube Film from Improving Alignment and Densification, Nano Letters (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b03863

A new method is reported for preparing carbon nanotube (CNT) films. This method involves the continuous production of a hollow cylindrical CNT assembly and its condensation on a winding drum. The alignment and densification of CNTs in the film are improved by controlling the winding rate and imposition of mechanical rolling, respectively. The prepared film has a strength of 9.6 GPa, which is well above those for all other man-made films and fibers.

Related Stories

Could stronger, tougher paper replace metal?

July 24, 2015

Researchers at the University of Maryland recently discovered that paper made of cellulose fibers is tougher and stronger the smaller the fibers get. For a long time, engineers have sought a material that is both strong (resistant ...

Nano-hybrid materials create magnetic effect

January 13, 2016

Developing novel materials from the atoms up goes faster when some of the trial and error is eliminated. A new Rice University and Montreal Polytechnic study aims to do that for graphene and boron nitride hybrids.

New process enables easier isolation of carbon nanotubes

January 20, 2016

Manufacture of longer, thinner, and uncontaminated carbon nanotubes, and successfully isolating them, have been ongoing challenges for researchers. A newly developed method has opened up new possibilities in carbon nanotube ...

Recommended for you

Atomic-scale ping-pong

June 20, 2018

New experiments by researchers at the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester have shed more light on the gas flow through tiny, angstrom-sized channels with atomically flat walls.

Chameleon-inspired nanolaser changes colors

June 20, 2018

As a chameleon shifts its color from turquoise to pink to orange to green, nature's design principles are at play. Complex nano-mechanics are quietly and effortlessly working to camouflage the lizard's skin to match its environment.

Method could help boost large scale production of graphene

June 19, 2018

The measure by which any conductor is judged is how easily, and speedily, electrons can move through it. On this point, graphene is one of the most promising materials for a breathtaking array of applications. However, its ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Feb 04, 2016
Now about that space elevator?! See this is developed in China, a nation working as hard as it can on a space elevator. Japan is also working on this. Course whoever gets it done first owns space as far as our current chemical based rocketry for take off, and terror filled free fall landings complete with parachutes is concerned. We either develop this and develop nuclear fission or fusion propulsion sufficient for single stage space ascent and slow descent, or we will be eventually slaves of those that have the will to do it and the will to use it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.