TEM of Multi-walled Carbon Nanotube
Shinshu University Endo Lab
“Maybe the most significant spin-off product of fullerene research, leading to the discovery of the C60 buckyball by the 1996 Nobel Prize laureates Robert F. Curl, Harold W. Kroto, and Richard E. Smalley, are nanotubes based on carbon or other elements. These systems consist of graphitic layers seamlessly wrapped to cylinders. With only a few nanometers in diameter, yet (presently) up to a millimeter long, the length-to-width aspect ratio is extremely high. A truly molecular nature is unprecedented for macroscopic devices of this size.” – The Nanotube Site
Technology Review tells us that we are a step closer to practical devices made of carbon nanotubes. Based upon Nobel Prize winning research that developed fullerene, a.k.a., buckyballs, “researchers at Rice University have demonstrated that carbon nanotubes can be chopped into small pieces to form ‘seeds’ that grow more nanotubes of precisely the same type.”
Technology Review quotes the opinion of Michael Strano, professor of chemistry and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “If Jim Tour (professor of chemistry at Rice University, and his colleagues) is ultimately successful, he’ll be able to grow large amounts of just one type of carbon nanotube, and so this will make that one type, or any type, very cheap and affordable.” He adds, “It’s a long road ahead. But it’s an important step forward.”
Such development is important in terms of electrification of the transportation sector to reduce a dependency on oil. As previously noted, there is a growing consensus that, if carbon nanotube development went from laboratory to full-scale production, then carbon nanotube enhanced ultra capacitors could become an essential component in electric vehicles, either replacing batteries or supplementing performance.