Carbon nanotubes are lightweight, stronger than steel and conduct electricity as well as copper. But making long wires from them, which would be useful in the real world, has proved extremely difficult. Until now. For the first time, scientists at Rice University have made threadlike carbon nanotubes that can be spun onto spools like wires, using industrial-scale methods.
"We finally have a nanotube fiber with properties that don't exist in any other material," lead researcher Matteo Pasquali said in a press release. "It looks like black cotton thread but behaves like both metal wires and strong carbon fibers." Pasquali is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry at Rice University.
ANALYSIS: Nanotech Tank Could Boost Natural Gas Vehicles
The ability to manufacture and commercialize high-strength carbon nanotube fibers could revolutionize everything from satellites to electric vehicles to electronic devices and could lead to innovations in electronic textiles and even space elevators that carry cargo from Earth to the Moon.