Carbon Nanotubes

This looks like it would make a useful material for an electrodynamic tether:

Working with Teijin Aramid, the Rice group has now made carbon-nanotube fibers that have more of the properties of individual nanotubes. They have an electrical conductivity close to copper’s, but are much stronger. They’re not quite as strong as conventional carbon fibers, but they’re much less brittle. And they’re more thermally conductive than metal or carbon fiber. That means nanotube fibers could replace these materials in existing applications in aerospace and electronics, and enable new technologies that take advantage of the fibers’ unique combination of strength, flexibility, and thermal and electrical conductivity. Pasquali envisions washable electronic textiles, lightweight wiring for planes, and eventually, more efficient wires for the electrical grid.


5 thoughts on “Carbon Nanotubes”

  1. I remember seeing a talk by the late Richard Smalley several years ago where he was talking about ballistic conductors using nanotubes. This still seems somewhat below the capabilities of what he described but it is a definite step forward. Given the high prices of copper alternatives would sure be useful.

    Also regarding materials I happened to read this rather old article today:

    Any possibilities to use something like this on a TPS for an RLV? The article claims there is an intention to use it in inflatable reentry.

  2. I don’t know about that article, Godzilla. They are saying it melts at 400 C – that seems way too low for re-entry…

    1. Yes that seems to be an issue. Perhaps they could replace the Nomex felt blankets like those of the Shuttle but still not really much of an advantage since the real issue is ceramic tiles and RCC.

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