NewsMaterials Science

Superstrong Nanotubes Show They Are Smart, Too

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Science  14 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5379, pp. 940-942
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5379.940

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Nanotubes, the tubular cousins of the spherical carbon molecules dubbed fullerenes, are stronger than steel, lightweight, able to withstand repeated bending, buckling, and twisting, and can conduct electricity as well as copper or semiconduct like silicon. They also transport heat better than any other known material. With this roster of qualities, the current list of possible uses for nanotubes includes superstrong cables, wires for nanosized electronic devices in futuristic computers, charge-storage devices in batteries, and tiny electron guns for flat-screen televisions. The key to this potential lies in nanotubes' unique structure, which in turn depends on the unique properties of its building material, and the defects that can form in their network of carbon bonds.