A miracle of modern science on its way towards utilization on broad markets
The history of carbon nanotubes is short and accompanied by coincidences. In fact, the first multi-walled carbon nanotubes discovered, were more of a by-product of another scientific project: Sumio Iijima discovered carbon nanotubes while working on the optimization of fullerene synthesis in 1991. At that time, it was not clear what these tiny tubes, consisting of concentric graphite layers, are capable of achieving.
Carbon nanotubes – significant properties and strengths
Exceptional is the right word to describe the properties and strengths of these carbon nanotubes. They possess a high electrical conductivity, and the high thermal stability of carbon nanotubes corresponds with their strong thermal conductivity. Their high mechanical stability is also amazing: the ratio of tensile strength to density of carbon nanotubes is 135-times higher than that of steel. Not least because of this extreme stability, carbon nanotubes have become increasingly valuable in industry in addition to science. The electrical loading capacity of carbon nanotubes also compares in an interesting way: we are talking about an electrical loading capacity of carbon nanotubes that is 1,000-times as strong as that of e.g. copper wires.
Current applications of carbon nanotubes
Carbon nanotubes, basically nothing more than rolled up graphite planes, are already in use in some areas of the most different branches of industry. The fields of application are as diverse as promising in terms of further applications and breakthroughs. Carbon nanotubes have already been used in military aircraft to reduce the weight of the airplane while at the same time providing the best possible stability of the material. In addition, carbon nanotubes can be mixed with various plastics to improve their mechanical properties. For example, 1% of carbon nanotubes in a mixture of carbon and standard polyethylene leads to a 25% increase in strength in the final product compared with that of one made purely from polyethylene. This mixture has already been used in the production of tennis rackets. Furthermore, carbon nanotubes have been used as transistors, an application that promises better and more stable performances in the long run.
Carbon nanotubes – a material of the future with endless potentials
The fields of applications of carbon nanotubes are quite diverse, and so are the positive properties and the reinforcing effects this material adds to other substances such as polyethylene. And yet we are still far from reaching the end of its possible uses. Rather, the industry has only just started to scratch the surface. The possibilities for the use of carbon nanotubes seem almost limitless. From usage in data storage to the possibility to help improve performance in displays and the use in measurement and microscopic technology a variety of approaches exists, some of which are already being actively implemented.
Carbon nanotubes as a field of scientific research – because the future is our concern
Because we are always looking for the next step on the long road of progress, carbon tubes are also part of our research and development initiatives. We are working towards a future in which we are no longer limited to concepts and ideas for the use of carbon nanotubes but have concrete implementations that afford each of us the benefits of this unique material.