A carbon nanotube is so named because it is simply a microscopic hollow tube made from a single-atom layer of carbon. Researchers first created carbon nanotubes using ethanol as the starting material, and this is still one of the most common approaches. However, this process is slow and still relatively expensive. To make carbon nanotubes you really just need a source of carbon, and there’s plenty of it out there — especially in disposable plastics.
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A team of researchers out of the University of Adelaide might have found a way to make nanotubes that is not only inexpensive, but does away with a troublesome bit of human refuse. According to the new paper, it may be possible to manufacture carbon nanotubes out of plastic bags. The phrase “killing two birds with one stone” comes to mind.
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