The carbon nanotubes, or CNTs, are one-tenth the weight of the same length of copper, and 30 times stronger. CNTs are a series of hollow tubes made up of carbon atoms. The researchers have also developed a way for the carbon nanotubes to be easily joined with metals, to create hybrid networks as the material is rolled out into electrical systems.
“It is reasonably simple for us to make a meter-long wire made of carbon and use it in an electrical system,” said Dr. Krzysztof Koziol of Cambridge, in a press release. “No longer are we talking about millimeter-long, minute samples.”
The researchers say their nanotubes will start by making more fuel-efficient, lighter satellites and airplanes, and could eventually be used to do the same in automobiles. A large satellite derives a third of its 15-ton weight from electrical wiring, which the researchers say would be greatly reduced by using the carbon nanotubes, which are about one-tenth the width of the human hair.
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