Carbon Nanotube Electronics

Carbon NanoTubes (CNT) are structures made from carbon atoms arranged in a lattice that is rolled up into a tube shape. Like silicon, carbon can act as a semiconductor and this allows it to be used in making small electronic components. We are just beginning to learn how to use carbon nanotubes in electronics, but they offer reductions in size, and increases in both speed and efficiency.

CNTs are among the strongest materials we know because of their single crystal structure. A common problem in manufacturing small but strong fibers (whiskers) is alignment. In order to maximize the tensile strength of fibers, they need to be in a parallel arrangement. But most whiskers are made using chemical vapor deposition processes which result in random alignments unless special provisions are added. A variety of electrical and thermal adaptations are being applied to the manufacturing process to achieve alignment.

Researchers are now working on techniques to enhance CNT alignment and the use of CNTs in electronic substrates. This implies the production of strong, light, flexible, fibers that incorporate advanced electronics inside them.

Rice University researchers discover way to make highly-aligned, wafer-scale nanotube films

– [youtube.com]

Rice University researchers discover that a simple filtration technique produces wafer-scale films of highly aligned carbon nanotubes. The thin films offer possibilities for flexible electronic and photonic devices. Read about it at http://news.rice.edu/2016/04/04/nanotubes-line-up-to-form-films-2/

Carbon Nanotubes Make Aerospace Composites Conductive – [spectrum.ieee.org]

We have all been witness to the proliferation of carbon fiber adding lightweight strength to sporting goods like bicycles and tennis racquets. That application of carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRPs) has been no more popular than in the aerospace industry, where every gram counts.

What many of us may not have understood about CFRPs is something called “polymer sizing.” This is a coating that is applied to the surface of the carbon fibers to make them easier to handle and to improve the adhesion between the fibers and the polymer matrix in which they’re embedded.

Now researchers at the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), the University of Bristol’s Advanced Composite Centre for Innovation and Science (ACCIS), and aerospace company Bombardier have collaborated on the development of a carbon nanotube–enabled material set to replace the polymer sizing. The reinforced polymers produced with this new material have enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity, opening up new functional possibilities. It will be possible, say the British researchers, to embed gadgets such as sensors and energy harvesters directly into the material.

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