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Japan's Shinano Kenshi Develops New Conductive Composite Powder

28 February 2005

Japan's Shinano Kenshi Co. has developed a composite powder of carbon nanotubes and carbon silk that features high electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity.

The company claim that the composite can conduct electricity just as well as electrolytic copper, but because it contains no metal is strongly resistant to alkaline environments and will therefore not oxidize.

Shinano Kenshi, the electric equipment manufacturer, is also looking to develop ways to mass produce this material and has already looking to ship samples around May this year. One possible application for the composite highlighted by the company is the electrodes of fuel cells.

Carbon nanotubes are regarded to be good conductors of both electricity and heat. Mixing the nanotubes with copper or other metals tend to retain both their conductive qualities but tend to corrode over time. Composites on the other hand, produced by mixing the nanotubes with resin, are electrically conductive but are not good heat conductors.

The new composite devised by Shinano Kenshi is produced by mixing nanotubes into a solution of carbon silk, which is obtained by sintering silk at a high temperature. Mixing of the two components with ultrasound yields a composite powder that can conduct heat around 10 times better than nanotube-resin composites.