If manufacturing is entering the "Golden Age" of nanotechnology, then carbon nanotubes are the "Golden Child." In recent years, these tubes of graphite many times thinner than a human hair have become a much-touted emerging technology because of their potential ability to add strength and other important properties to materials.
Adding carbon nanotubes to plastics and other polymers has potential to make automobile and airplane bodies stronger and lighter, and textiles more tear-resistant. And because of their electrical properties, carbon nanotubes also may be used to embed sensors in clothing for military and medical applications. By one estimate, the carbon nanotube market valued at approximately $12 million in 2002 could grow to $700 million by 2005.
One problem, however, is the nanotubes tend to clump together in certain applications. Just as an oil and water salad dressing must be shaken thoroughly to mix well, carbon nanotube formulations must be thoroughly blended to perform their best.
Scott Nance | EurekAlert!
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