January 19, 2007

Big Breakthrough: Honeycomb Nanotubes transfer carbon nanotube strength to the macroscale

Physorg reports, the stretchiness of these 20-nm-long carbon nanotubes enables them to do what straight nanotubes find difficult: namely, transfer tensile forces and possess high ductility, or malleability. Scientists Min Wang, Xinming Qiu, and Xiong Zhang from Tsinghua University in Beijing recently investigated the mechanical properties of super honeycomb structures, which are made of periodically repeating carbon nanotube Y junctions that form hexagonal patterns. While straight nanotubes—such as those compiled in bundles or ropes—have renowned strength and elasticity, the honeycomb structure can also transfer these forces to different parts of its structure.

When one tube in the honeycomb structure is broken, the surrounding arms can easily carry the load due to the structure’s ability to transfer forces.

The super honeycomb’s ability to transfer forces means that these structures could provide scientists with resources to improve nanoelectronics devices for computers, and also fiber-reinforced composites.

“Many nanoelectronic devices based on Y-junction carbon nanotubes have been proposed recently,” said Zhang. “Scientists [Coluci] have discussed the electronic properties of the super structures, and indicated that they have great applications as actuators and as hosts for large biomolecules. Regarding fiber-reinforced composites, just as its name implies, the mechanical properties of materials such as resin and concrete can be improved by adding some fiber components.”

Citation: Wang, Min, Qiu, Xinming, and Zhang, Xiong. “Mechanical properties of super honeycomb structures based on carbon nanotubes.” Nanotechnology. 18 (2007) 075711 (6pp)