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Nanotubes Start to Show their Promise

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the now-lay-me-some-sugar dept.

Technology 329

Rei writes "Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed the highest quality nanotube sheets to date (the team previously set strength records with polymer-nanotube composites). Producable at a rate comparable to commercial wool spinning, the transparent cloth has exceedingly high conductivity, flexibility, has huge surface area to volume ratios, can potentially be made into very effective OLEDs and thin-film photovoltaic cells, and outperforms even our best bulk materials (such as Mylar and Kevlar) at strength normalized to weight. It strongly absorbs microwaves for localized heating (leading to applications in seamless microwave welding of sections and even windshield warming), changes conductivity little over a wide temperature range (very useful in sensors), and is expected to be used in commercial applications very soon. The research should even be expandable to artificial muscles! To head people off, while the exact tensile strength is not listed, it sounds like it is still far from the >100 GPa needed for a space elevator. Anyways, here's to process advancements!"

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FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13353926)

FP!

Re:FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13353931)

SP

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354104)

XP!

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354207)

OP

(Not to mention Members Only, Vans, and Button-fly 501s)

Near first post (3, Funny)

Kawahee (901497) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353929)

I'd like to see these sort of things geared up with 'smart' nanotechnology to make 'smart' cords and stuff like that, imagine a highly conductive wire that provided +, - and ground and detangled itself, or melted into a pool and you just pulled cord out of it, all detangled or bent into whatever shape you want.

Re:Near first post (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13353988)

The magical pixies on lollipop lane have all sorts of wonderful smart cords.

MS And The Dreamcast 360 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13353930)

Who gives a shit about nanotubes when the entire MS/xbox fanboy community is commiting suicide as we speak?

Fucking hilarious.

Re:MS And The Dreamcast 360 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354032)

Commiting suicide?

Why?

Still lot of carbon... (0)

TarryTops (888130) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353932)

and I wonder if that helps in terms of conservation of energy?

Re:Still lot of carbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13353948)

why do people automagically assume that carbon = bad for the environment?

Re:Still lot of carbon... (2, Funny)

aleander (95485) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354021)

Well, the greatest danger to the clean, sterile environment is carbon-based, you know...

Re:Still lot of carbon... (1)

TarryTops (888130) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354029)

and human ;-)

Re:Still lot of carbon... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354038)

Conservation of energy is a law of physics (ok, as long as you don't include General Relativity, at least). So you don't need carbon nanotubes to conserve energy.

However maybe it helps with conservation of entropy :-)

Re:Still lot of carbon... (3, Insightful)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354087)

...as long as you don't include General Relativity, at least...

Even in GR, the stress-energy tensor has zero divergence.

Re:Still lot of carbon... (0)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354049)

It might help you by replacing cancer causing asbestos underpants when engulfed in ./ flamewar. (don't know if carbon nanotubes combust readily)

Hurm... (5, Funny)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353936)


Oh good. I wonder how much it will cost for a packet of laser printer paper made of this stuff?

I could use something snazzy for my resume.

Re:Hurm... (5, Funny)

PerlDudeXL (456021) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353991)

This type of paper will require nano-tube based ink/toner.
of course, the ink will be the most expensive type of fluid with built-in DRM!

Re:Hurm... (5, Funny)

Morky (577776) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354068)

Marcy, come in here please. I just severed my hand with this young man's resume. Get him in here! I like his moxie!

Re:Hurm... (2, Insightful)

HomerJayS (721692) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354251)

In all likleyhood, if you could afford to print your resume on such paper, you wouldn't need a job.

Miracle (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13353937)

And yes, folks, it cures most deceases and will get rid of that bronchitis for you and you can use it to clean your hubcaps.

Re:Miracle (0, Offtopic)

TheSloth2001ca (893282) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353972)

but will it slice dice and make julienne fries???

Re:Miracle (5, Funny)

JimmehAH (817552) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353979)

it cures most deceases

Just like Jesus!

Re:Miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354145)

Yes, folk, just like Jesus, carbon nanotubes can do anything, and are also a myth!

Re:Miracle (0)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353983)

Wow! If it cures deceases, sign me up for some of that!

Funny... (2, Informative)

TarryTops (888130) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354123)

intr.v. deceased, deceasing, deceases To die. n. The act of dying; death. And disease (d-zz) n. A pathological condition of a body part, an organ, or a system resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.

Space elevators (4, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353938)

To head people off, while the exact tensile strength is not listed, it sounds like it is still far from the >100 GPa needed for a space elevator.

Why do they say they're going to enter the material into some space elevator competition at the end of the article then?

Re:Space elevators (5, Insightful)

MaestroSartori (146297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353958)

The authors also say that,
with further tweaking, their nanotube sheets may be useful for building a space elevator tether. They're planning to put the sheets to the test by entering the Spaceward Foundation's Elevator:2010 contest.


Emphasis mine. Seems to suggest that they think they're not too far away from it, so you're not totally off the mark, but we all know that the last few tweaks can be the bit that don't work, relegating this to other uses...

Re:Space elevators (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353997)

That's just modern journalism.
It used to be Who What When Where and How, now it's May Might Could HelpTo and SomeDay.

Re:Space elevators (2, Insightful)

WiFiBro (784621) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354080)

is it the journalist or: the pr behind the product?

Re:Space elevators (2, Insightful)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354328)

Is there even a difference anymore?

Re:Space elevators (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354337)

I'd imagine both play some part. Like they even care if the story happens to be the best one this millenia (for example, I'm not saying this story is), they still have to hype it up to the point where it's at least partly bullshit. God knows why, probably the PR wants more people to buy their product and the journalists want more people to buy their newspaper\magazine\tv show\whatever.

Re:Space elevators (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354089)

Because it's the best there is atm, and that's what (I'm guessing) the competition is about. Getting people to make as good as possible materials for space elevator theter use, even if it's not enough to build the real thing, so to speak.

Baby steps.

Space elevators will never work (1, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354196)

And it has absolutely nothing to do with the technology. It's all about the economics.

A space elevator is going to require a truly civilisation shaking level of investment by a country. Then, once it's built that investment has to be amortized over it's lifetime, but wait, it only has two end points and it takes a certain amount of time to load and unload a vehicle of cargo and passengers, it takes a certain amount of time to travel the distance up to orbit. These two fundamental physical limitations will mean that a space elevator will never be able to pay back the investment. It's always going to be cheaper to load a cargo on top of a rocket booster and fire it up.

 

Re:Space elevators will never work (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354225)

why are you limited? load 100 vehicles about 1 hour apart on the elevator....

Re:Space elevators will never work (0, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354319)

What? Um, how much do you think it's going to cost to build and run?

The ISS is 35 billion plus so far and that's nothing compared to a space elevator. Multiply it by 10, 100, 1000? What about loading 10,000 vehicles or 100,000 in order to break even.

In the meantime the Russians and others in the private sector are launching equivalent payloads for peanuts comparatively. In order to "work" economically, a space elevator will require government subsidy, just like trains.

 

Does this mean? (4, Funny)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353939)

I can soon have a solar powered bulletproof jacket that enhances my strength, protects me from cell phone emissions, and displays DVDs?

Re:Does this mean? (4, Funny)

Lil-Bondy (849941) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353973)

teletubby?

Re:Does this mean? (2, Funny)

fatgav (555629) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354065)

And you still won't get laid!

Better just hope that... (1)

Tmack (593755) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354139)

no one takes a flash phototograph [newscientist.com] of you in your jacket....

tm

Re:Better just hope that... (1)

thc69 (98798) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354221)

From the link:
Ajayan says the explosion occurs because the black carbon nanotubes absorb light so efficiently that, when it is converted into heat, the heat cannot dissipate quickly enough across bunched-up tubes.
Does this mean that we can use them to build the monolith from 2001, or maybe the spaceship stolen from the Milliways parking lot?

flexible screens..? (5, Funny)

welshwaterloo (740554) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353940)

The research should even be expandable to artificial muscles!

Or, from the article, and perhaps of more interest to us:
  "flexible computer screens that could be rolled into a sack"

Haven't we been promised this for years? I wanna roll up my computer screen & carry it into my flying car!

Re:flexible screens..? (2, Interesting)

Maian (887886) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353955)

Isn't this already possible with OLEDs [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:flexible screens..? (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354118)

No. They are pretty, shiny, bright, low-power and promising-to-be-inexpensive, but they are not any more rollable than LCD. OTOH "video paper" [slashdot.org] IS rollable.

Re:flexible screens..? (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353990)

Imagine the excitement: thousands of Slashdot users could get their first roll in a sack!

Re:flexible screens..? (1)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354040)

What, like one of these [zdnet.co.uk] ?

Never mind that. (1)

mrRay720 (874710) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354044)

I'm still waiting for my microwave-controlled nanotube jetpack, powered by stirling engines and hydrogen fuel cells.

Re:flexible screens..? (1)

khrtt (701691) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354147)

I wanna roll up my computer screen & carry it into my flying car!

No, not possible. But, you can carry your LCD monitor into your PT cruiser:-).

How about... (5, Interesting)

markild (862998) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353941)

...the cost?

I know tfa says that it will be efficient, but does that take the cost into perspective? It's not unusual to hear about a new idea that is totally ground braking in several fields, then the research on the commercial fades out, because they find out that it's too pricey. A lot of products was that way in the beginning. Just look at LCD screens etc.

Well. That being said. This sound awesome, I'd like to see it developed...

Cost is irrelevant (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13353954)

It is the resource usage and sustailability that makes it worthwhile. Cars cost a shedload of cash, but they are still bought. People work longer and longer hours, parents both work. Why? Because they want to buy the things they want and they are expensive.

Cost is irrelevant.

If the cost of the item is too great to be commercial (as computers used to be), it will be bought by those with the need for this stuff. After a while, it will become cheaper, as computers did.

However, if the creation of these nanotube materials is not resource efficient, then they will never be able to become widely used.

Re:Cost is irrelevant (5, Informative)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353965)

According to this article [usatoday.com] , Andrew Barron (Rice University) seems to think we could see this technology used in Formula One racing cars, as early as next season. Although he's probably being a little optimistic, something like a Formula One team would certainly have the sponsors to experiment with tech like this, and develop cheaper manufacturing processes (if possible).

Re:Cost is irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354171)

It'd be more likly to show up in the 2007 F1 season. The designs for next years cars are already well underway. Jumping back to play with some new material or idea isn't really an option at this point.

Re:How about... (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354013)

...the cost?
Cost isn't determined in the lab where the stuff is invented at the time of invention - it's worked out later when it becomes clear that there is more than one way to make something and the best way can be taken advantage of. The first few transistors cost a fortune each to produce, as did aluminium for the first few years. We make both in a different fashion now to the first processes used to make them.

Producable at a rate... (4, Informative)

ArbiterOne (715233) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353942)

Yes, it's producable at a certain rate- but what about the cost? Is it economically feasible?
Unfortunate about the space elevator. Looks like the highest we've gone is 63 GPa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tensile_strength [wikipedia.org] )

Re:Producable at a rate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354081)

Looks like the fastest we've gone is 1000 instructions per second, as was said some 50 years ago about computers.

Re:Producable at a rate... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354133)

Well, if it can be woven at the rate of commercial wool spinning on research grant money, then it's within the realm of "I can make money doing that if I charge enough". I'm sure that if our government can spend $350 billion on something and still not have proper body armor for the soldiers in Iraq, some senators can find it in their hearts and our pocketbooks to equip them with this stuff for a few hundred billion more (or whatever it takes).

Oh, wonderous progress! (5, Funny)

rocjoe71 (545053) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353960)

It strongly absorbs microwaves

Super, I envision the day where I can replace my tin-foil hat with a nanotube beret.

Re:Oh, wonderous progress! (-1, Offtopic)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353970)

You dammned froggy sympathiser, I'd like to replace your shoes with concrete boots before it's too late.

Re:Oh, wonderous progress! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354048)

You may laugh, but Raytheon has been expending quite a few research dollars on its torture^h^h^h^h^h^h^h "active denial system".

A jacket that makes a Faraday cage around your body would make that technology obsolete before it ever gets off the ground.

Re:Oh, wonderous progress! (1)

dabigpaybackski (772131) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354061)

Super, I envision the day where I can replace my tin-foil hat with a nanotube beret.

I'd suggest a balaclava. You get better coverage that way.

remember (1)

fbartho (840012) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354212)

its *them* who could be telling you this...

how can you ever fully trust nanotube sheets, maybe they actually conduct and amplify your thoughts making it even easier for them to pinpoint you deviants out there and eliminate you... or just listen to your thoughts... everyone has tinfoil, only deviants will have nanotube berets.

Re:Oh, wonderous progress! (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354252)

Thanks a lot, jackass. Now I have to go listen to Price all day to burn that song out of my head.

Re:Oh, wonderous progress! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354293)

*it strongly absorbs microwave radiation, which causes localized heating*

Super, I envision the day where I can replace my tin-foil hat with a nanotube beret

And fry your brain! Although you apparently won't miss it. :P

so... (1)

bmeteor (167631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353980)

if they ever remade the Graduate, that line would go...

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Nanotubes.

That, and once again punish Paul Simon with another reunion with Art Garfunkle

Re:so... (0)

dabigpaybackski (772131) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354070)

Hey, make fun of the man all you want, but nobody could play a tambourine like Garfunkel.

Over-simplifying? (1)

bariumLanthanide (816960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353981)

The researchers have now shown that by teasing nanotubes away from one side of a forest and attaching them to a strip of sticky tape they can draw the nanotubes into a continuous sheet. Umm, surely this must be totally over-simplifying what they -really- do..

Re:Over-simplifying? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 9 years ago | (#13353998)

Maybe it is like that nylon stuff, like in school you had a bucket of liquid polymer goop, and you stick a needle into it and bring it out, and you get a thread of nylon attached to the end?

I'm quite surprised at the rate of development relating to nanotubes. Motorola have those displays utilising nanotubes to direct electrons. Now we have sheets of them suitable for multiple applications. What next?

Space Elevator (0, Redundant)

Branc0 (580914) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354000)

I've heard nanotubes were a possibility to build the space elevator (another /. article some months ago) and this seems to be good news on that front. Anyone thinks it will be built in our lifetimes?

It'll never be built (0, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354205)

A space elevator gives you serial access to space. Rockets give you parallel access. Rockets will always be cheaper.

 

Re:It'll never be built (2, Informative)

gomoX (618462) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354339)

Well, no. That's the whole point. Even if it's serial it can boost you bandwidth per buck a huge lot.

Wow..... (2, Funny)

mormop (415983) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354024)

and outperforms even our best bulk materials (such as Mylar and Kevlar) at strength normalized to weight. It strongly absorbs microwaves for localized heating

Should be interesting to see the day when a drug dealer overrides the safety interlock on his microwave and points it at nanotube body armour wearing DEA officials during a bust.

Should bring a new meaning to the phrase "hot tits"

Re:Wow..... (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354046)

I'd rather have my tits get hot than cooked internally.

Re:Wow..... (1)

khrtt (701691) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354166)

Don't you forget, human body is also conductive, and microwaves heat it up rather well as it is, though wrapping would make you crispy [slashdot.org] .

set it (0, Offtopic)

brandanglendenning (766328) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354030)

and...

Ummm, that doesn't even begin to sound safe. (1, Insightful)

mrRay720 (874710) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354037)

It strongly absorbs microwaves for localized heating (leading to applications ... in windshield warming)

Yeah, I'm going to have a microwave generator going in my car, aiming the the windshield, just to warm it up. That's got to be safe right?

Just a shame we can't do something slightly safer, like send a small electric currents through tiny wires, or blow hot air at it.

But oh no... we have to shoot microwaves through our cars instead.

Re:Ummm, that doesn't even begin to sound safe. (4, Insightful)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354056)

Yeah, I'm going to have a microwave generator going in my car, aiming the the windshield, just to warm it up.

Don't be silly. It'll just use the ambient microwave radiation we're pouring out now for communications. I'm more worried that with the windshield absorbing all the microwaves my coffee will no longer stay warm in the car.

Re:Ummm, that doesn't even begin to sound safe. (2)

dabigpaybackski (772131) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354076)

Why not? We shoot them into our skulls with cell phones.

Re:Ummm, that doesn't even begin to sound safe. (1)

Jasper__unique_dammi (901401) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354091)

they also said the sheet conducts, i think they'd use that. on another reply to this: heating from microwaves from selphones are neglible. the damage from the radiation is just a small increase to the normal radiation you recieve from space, human nuclear activities etc.

Space elevator time... (4, Funny)

Morky (577776) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354054)

Just keep it out of my neighborhood, please:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stoptheelevator/ [yahoo.com]

Re:Space elevator time... (1)

Lectrik (180902) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354150)


  Just keep it out of my neighborhood, please:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stoptheelevator/ [yahoo.com]


Cool, you live on the equator, 1000 miles west of the Galapagos islands too?
Can I borrow a cup of sugar?

This reminds me strongly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354060)

...of the Flanders and Swann "Wompom" song

You can do such a lot with a Wompom,
You can use every part of it too.
For work or for pleasure,
It's a triumph, it's a treasure,
Oh there's nothing that a Wompom cannot do.

Now the thread from the coat of the Wompom
Has the warmth and resilience of Wool
You need never wash or brush it,
It's impossible to crush it
And it shimmers like the finest sort of tulle.

So our clothes are all made from the Wompom;
Modern Gowns, Sportswear, Lingerie (Going up)
They are waterproof and plastic
Where it's needed they're elastic
And they emphasise the figure as you see.

Hail, to thee blithe Wompom.
Hail, to thee O Plant!
All-providing Wompom.
Universal Aunt!

You can shave with the rind of a Wompom,

etc etc

Why they are weaker (5, Informative)

convex_mirror (905839) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354062)

The reason why nanotube composites don't end up being nearly as strong as nanotubes is that nanotubes are very slippery inside of a composite, so once force is applied, it doesn't transfer through the interface and the ultimate tensile strength is primarily determined by the composite.

In this case, when they are weaving fibers together, the weakness in tensile strength will come from the interface between linked nanotubes which will have a tensile strength many orders of magnitude than that of an individual tube.

more efficient then a car engine? (1)

Jasper__unique_dammi (901401) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354067)

in the first link: "For example, Baughman and other researchers would dearly love to create artificial versions of the body's muscle fibers, which can convert a chemical energy supply into mechanical work with even more efficiency than a car engine." and what's the efficientcy of a car engine? 30%? its pretty good but the sentence seems to imply that a car engine is more efficient then say an electromotor. (ofcourse an electromotor needs its more generated elsewhere, but these nanotube also do)

Re:more efficient then a car engine? (1)

QMO (836285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354287)

You quoted "convert a chemical energy supply into mechanical work with even more efficiency than a car engine."

Is there any common direct conversion of chemical energy to mechanical other than the internal combustion engine?

I guess coal-, gas- and oil-fired power plants convert chemical energy to mechanical (and then to electrial) but those aren't very portable. I also don't know whether any of them are internal-combustion on a grand scale or how efficient they are.

Open source it (1)

dustrider (797233) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354083)

if there was ever a technology that could benefit from more people working on it, this is it.
For me, nanotech is probably the most exciting thing going on at the moment, it's a shame that more people can't take a hand.

waiting... (2, Insightful)

distantbody (852269) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354092)

"...and is expected to be used in commercial applications very soon..."
,
Hmmm, hasn't that been the case for the past decade? That's what my inner cynic says, anyway. Just like the fuel cell revolution, not to mention the nuclear fusion revolution.

there should be a revolution any day now... :(

Also.. (2, Interesting)

wpiman (739077) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354097)

on that page was the urine powered battery.... Now that could useful. Drink a few beers and power your laptop.

In soviet Russia (0)

Kvasio (127200) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354100)

In soviet Russia both space and elevators were not unheard of.

Good bye disposables (2, Funny)

St0rmward3n (908761) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354117)

Finally, a pair of underpants that won't wear out!

Stealth material? (4, Interesting)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354128)

If it strongly absorbs microwaves, I wonder about its potential as a radar-absorbing material for stealth military aircraft, leadfoot driver's cars, etc.

Re:Stealth material? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354176)

Taking a snapshot of carbon nanotubes using an ordinary camera flash can cause them to emit a loud pop and then suddenly burst into flame. Scientists say this unique explosive phenomenon may lead to new means of manufacturing nanoscale carbon materials and even remote-control devices for small explosive charges.

I DONT THINK SO :D >:D

the key ingredient to this all: (5, Funny)

DohnJoe (900898) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354146)

by teasing nanotubes away from one side of a forest and attaching them to a strip of sticky tape

again proof that duct tape can make anything work!
Soon we will have duct tape made out of this nanotubes, after that, who knows or even dares to dream!!!

Of course, all the features are great but... (1)

stripe4 (830171) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354165)

... does it run Linux?

Dallas Morning News - Article and Video (2, Informative)

HideEverFree (808079) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354179)

The Dallas Morning News (19-AUG) has a story on this. Registration is usually required, so text follows . . .

Article URL: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/lat estnews/stories/081905dnmetnanosheet.1c9439ac.html [dallasnews.com]
Video URL: http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/spe/2005/nanotech/ [dallasnews.com]

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LITTLE CREATION, BIG STEP

UTD team's chemical ribbons could assist many high-tech dreams

09:01 PM CDT on Thursday, August 18, 2005

By SUE GOETINCK AMBROSE / The Dallas Morning News

Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas have spun yards of chemical ribbons that are lighter than a feather but stronger than steel a significant advance in the rapidly growing field of nanotechnology.

(Picture: LOUIS DeLUCA/DMN University of Texas at Dallas scientists (from left) Mei Zhang, Sergey Lee, Ali Aliev, Anvar Zakhidov, Shaoli Fang and leader Ray Baughman took part in the research.)

The development could lead to a host of high-tech applications that scientists have dreamed of but haven't had an easy way to create: futuristic clothes that light up, store energy or blunt bullets; car doors that are ultra light, extra strong and double as batteries to store solar energy; flexible, filmy light bulbs that are thinner than a human hair; artificial muscles for robots; and solar sails to propel space vehicles.

A report describing the chemical ribbons, created from tiny carbon tubes barely visible to the human eye, appears in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

"This is a big deal, a real big deal," said James Tour, a chemist at Rice University in Houston, of the new study. "Every paragraph is a gold mine."

The ribbons are created from carbon nanotubes, filaments about one-five-thousandth the width of a human hair. At the atomic level, the nanotubes look like cylinders of chicken wire. Because the nanotubes, like diamonds, are made entirely of carbon, they are extraordinarily strong. They also conduct electricity.

Scientists had known of carbon nanotubes' exceptional properties but had struggled to easily convert them into convenient forms. Last year, the UTD scientists, led by chemist Ray Baughman, had spun the nanotubes into yarn. Other scientists had created small sheets of nanotubes, but their process was cumbersome. DallasNews.com/extra

"The value of this invention is to make it into sheets," said Ned Thomas, a materials scientist at the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Clever people will take those sheets and put them into technologies that have yet to be invented."

THE PROCEDURE

Making the ribbons is quite simple, Dr. Baughman said. The UTD scientists started with a "forest" of nanotube trees, about one-third of a millimeter high. Then they stuck a Post-It note to one edge of the forest and gently pulled away. The nanotube trees were drawn out, and as the researchers kept pulling, the trees stuck to each other side by side, forming a long, wispy and transparent sheet.

Sheets more than a meter long, about two inches wide, and less than one-thousandth the width of a human hair thick can be pulled in less than a minute, by hand in the lab, Dr. Baughman said. The process easily could be industrialized, he said.

"There is no limit on how wide they can be," Dr. Baughman said.

The ability to convert carbon nanotubes into such a useful form will be a boon to many small companies trying to use them to create newer or better devices, Dr. Thomas said.

"Nanotechnology needs this," he said. "It's been hyped, and there's been a lot of expectations."

Dr. Baughman, who said the university and a collaborating Australian national lab have filed a provisional patent application to cover the technology, rattled off a slew of ideas, many with military applications.

"You would like to have blankets that could be unfurled in the desert to harvest energy for soldiers," he said. The nanotube sheets, unlike other materials that collect solar energy, still collect electricity when bent or creased.

Clothing made of cross-woven nanotube ribbons could make strong yet light protective gear, possibly even strong enough to repel a bullet.

The scientists have already shown that one of the nanotube sheets, sandwiched between two pieces of Plexiglas and microwaved, can weld the Plexiglas together. Transparent devices, such as a car window, could be created this way with a nanotube-based antenna or heating element inside.

The nanotube sheets could also be used as electrodes for light-emitting displays, such as those found on clock radios.

Engineers have also dreamed of ultra lightweight sails for space travel. Light from the sun could push on these sails, powering space vehicles.

Such a sheet, Dr. Baughman said, has to maintain the stress of light pushing on it but can't be too heavy. A sail measuring about one-third of a square mile would weigh only 66 pounds.

"How do you make sheets that are thin enough and strong enough?" Dr. Baughman said. "These carbon nanotube sheets seem to fit the bill."

WORK LEFT TO DO

Some tweaking of the nanotube sheet technology is still needed, Dr. Baughman said. The sheets created so far are made of multi-walled nanotubes, tubes nested inside each other like Russian dolls. Single-walled nanotubes, which are harder to grow as forests, are more desirable for some applications, such as conducting electricity. But there's no reason to doubt they could be pulled into sheets, Dr. Baughman said.

The UTD researchers, along with researchers at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Children in Dallas, are exploring whether the nanotube sheets could be useful in medicine. Mario Romero, a neurobiologist at Scottish Rite, said he's found that several types of cells can grow on the sheets. The sheets could be useful for measuring electrical and chemical properties of cells, or possibly in tissue engineering.

Other scientists who participated in the research were UTD's Mei Zhang, Shaoli Fang, Anvar Zakhidov, Sergey Lee, Ali Aliev and Christopher Williams. Ken Atkinson from a national laboratory in Victoria, Australia, also contributed.

E-mail sgoetinck@dallasnews.com

THE PROMISE OF NANOTECHNOLOGY

(Picture: LOUIS DeLUCA/DMN UTD researcher Ali Aliev shows a transparent strip of carbon nanotubes.)

Scientists have known for a while that tiny carbon nanotubes have exceptional properties. But now, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have been able to easily convert the nanotubes into a more versatile form. A host of high-tech applications are possible:

Clothes or blankets that could store energy and blunt bullets

Car doors strong enough to protect passengers and double as batteries

Ultra-lightweight solar sails that could propel space vehicles.

Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/lat estnews/stories/081905dnmetnanosheet.1c9439ac.html [dallasnews.com]

fuck a FUCKEgR (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13354183)

Ringworld Fans? (1)

klnW (908766) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354198)

So many uses... perhaps we should start working on the vaccine against the bug that eats the stuff.

Spider webs (1)

Musteval (817324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354213)

I bet spider webs are still stronger.

Specific strength (2, Informative)

nuggz (69912) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354311)

WTF is Strength normalized to weight?
Specific strength is the term they are looking for, second it is normalized to mass, not weight.

Suggest to me someone with little science/engineering background "wrote" the article, and just listed off the interesting stuff they 'heard about nanotubes'

Sounds great... (3, Interesting)

gadgetman (4992) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354323)

If this stuff is so resilient, NASA should really research a coating of it over the Shuttle tank foam that keeps falling off.

Does the article summary mean... (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#13354331)

... that Nanotubes are to materials as XML is to software?
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