[Tech]Story Ep. 07 – The Potential of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)

Podcast Audio

What are they

  • Carbon Nano tubes consist of carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a tube.
  • These tubes have diameters on the Nano scale, and are incredibly strong.
  • These tubes have strengths magnitudes greeter than steel, and are significantly lighter. (100 times stronger, 1/6 the weight.)3


  • Roger Bacon may have created the first nanotubes in1958 when he discovered carbon fiber filaments as discussed in the carbon fiber episode.
  • In 1991, a paper was published by Sumio Iijima of NEC Corp, in Japan.
    • The paper outlined the discovery of what are called multi-walled  CNTs.2
  • In 1993 single-walled carbon nanotubes were discovered.4

How They are Made

  • Most promising method is Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).9
    • Carbon gas is placed in a chamber and heated between 300 to 1150 Degrees Celsius, or between 572 and 2102 degrees Fahrenheit while a non-reactive gas is passed through the chamber.
    • This process can run for several hours creating more CNTs.


    • Carbon nanotubes are amazing conductors axially, and amazing insulators laterally.5
    • Very low thermal expansion.5
    • Very flexible.5
    • More Efficient water filters.6
    • Batteries5,6
      • Greater storage capacity.6
      • Possible to “spray” layers to create a battery on any surface.
    • Reinforcing structures.
    • Improving dental implants.
      • Bone adheres to the nanotubes better than existing materials.7
    • Artificial muscles made by yarn and CNTs can lift 200 times more weight than natural muscles.7
    • “”Nanotubes bound to an antibody that is produced by chickens have been shown to be useful in lab tests to destroy breast cancer tumors. The antibody-carrying nanotubes are attracted to proteins produced by one type of breast cancer cell. Once attached to these cells, the nanotubes absorb light from an infrared laser, incinerating the nanotubes and the attached tumor.””7
    • A Lamborghini prototype designed with MIT is said to be able to repair cracks in its body by filling them with nanotubes. The car also runs on carbon capacitors that are built into the body.8


  • 3D printing CNT filament. Someone make that happen.



  1. http://nanogloss.com/nanotubes/the-history-of-carbon-nanotubes-who-invented-the-nanotube/#axzz4z5T3VPoM
  2. https://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=43558_1.php
  3. https://www.cheaptubes.com/carbon-nanotubes-history-and-production-methods-2/
  4. http://www.balzan.org/en/prizewinners/sumio-iijima/the-discovery-of-carbon-nanotubes-iijima
  5. https://www.cheaptubes.com/carbon-nanotubes-applications/
  6. http://www.zdnet.com/article/5-surprising-uses-for-carbon-nanotubes/
  7. http://www.understandingnano.com/nanotubes-carbon.html
  8. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/11/lamborghini-creates-self-healing-sports-car/
  9. https://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology/introduction/introduction_to_nanotechnology_22.php

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