The darlings of materials science, carbon nanotubes are superstrong and highly electrically conductive.
Nanotubes Make it Big
The darlings of materials science, carbon nanotubes are superstrong and highly electrically conductive. But they are also finer and far shorter than the hair on a baby's head, which makes it hard to incorporate their full range of properties into everyday materials. Now a U.S. company has made sheets of the sooty stuff big enough to cover a grown-up. Nanocomp Technologies, Inc., based in Concord, N.H., wove its millimeter-length nanotubes into slim bundles and deposited them onto a rotating drum, yielding sheets up to three feet (one meter) wide and six feet long (such as the one shown here). The company says its paperlike nanotube sheets are as tough as stainless steel, 30 times less dense and might be useful in shielding electronics from interference or making ultrastrong composite materials.