Until recently researchers have relied on the nanotubes which researchers purchase as a powder. The nanotubes are said to have remarkable, if not almost magical, properties. For example, by simply mixing the powder with polymers or chemicals, films and composites can be made.
However, the method has drawbacks. “We have never been able to anchor the powder to a large surface, nor can we grow the nanotubes in a large device. Typically we could only produce them in minute amounts, if we used the powder substance,” said Mitra. Now everything has changed.
Using a catalyst either prepared on the steel surface or enabled by a chemical deposition process, the NJIT inventors have created nanotubes which can stick to the walls of narrow or wide tubes. And, they can grow considerably larger amounts of them, making the process more attractive and viable for industrial usages.