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Carbon Nanotubes: what are they and what are they used for

Carbon nanotubes, or carbon nanotubes in English, are the new material of the future because they are extremely strong and lightweight, as well as being of the future because they are extremely strong and lightweight, and have an excellent ability to conduct electricity. they have an excellent ability to conduct electricity.

Carbon Nanotubes: what are they and what are they used for

Carbon nanotubes are the new material of the future because they are extremely strong, lightweight and have excellent electrical conductivity.

They are cylinders ten thousand times thinner than a human hair, hollow and made up of a hexagonal network of carbon atoms. These nanotubes are woven together to form long fibers that resemble threads that have so far been tested, for example, in bulletproof vests and personal protective clothing in the military.

There are different types of carbon nanotubes and each one of them has specific properties that it obtains according to the orientation of the hexagons of carbon atoms with respect to its axis. This is precisely one of the main challenges, which is why at the moment we have not been able to find the right process to manufacture nanotubes on an industrial scale.

Caracteristics of 'carbon nanotubes'

Due to their properties, the use of carbon nanotubes at the industrial level would bring important advances. Some of the main characteristics of this promising material are:

  • Strength We could say that nanotubes are similar to carbon fiber, but 20 times more resistant and approximately 100 times more resistant than steel.
  • Each nanotube is about two thousand times smaller than a carbon fiber filament and ten thousand times smaller than a human hair.
  • Excellent conductors of electricity and heat. They compete with the best electrical conductors currently known.
  • Elastic materials. Although for the moment only small batches of carbon nanotube fibers of short length can be made, ultra-strong and elastic materials could be developed from them in the future.

In this regard, an experiment carried out by researchers at the Natick Soldier Research Development Center, Massachusetts in the United States, found that the weakest nanotube fibers broke at 1 gigapascal of tension, which is the same as steel.

However, some of the best results show that the fibers broke at 6 gigapascals, exceeding the strength of materials such as Kevlar, widely used in bulletproof vests.

Some tests even indicate strengths of up to 9 gigapascals, surpassing any material known to date.

What are carbon nanotubes used for?

Because of their impressive properties, and the potential that 'carbon nanotubes' have for the future, some of the applications currently being studied are:

  • Bulletproof vests and personal protective clothing in the military.
  • Oil drilling
  • Could even be used as a replacement for copper in electronic applications due to its high electrical conductivity
  • Automobile manufacturing. There would be lighter bodies, improvements in the propulsion system, more efficient catalytic converters, etc.
  • Drug delivery devices
  • Light-activated semiconductors

At ESGRAF we keep an eye on technological developments within the carbon world. If you are interested in having a consultant contact you, please follow this link.