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Carbon Nanotubes in High Demand

  • Monday, 20th May 2002
  • Reading time: about 2 minutes

NanoLab, a Boston-based nanotechnology start-up, has received $750,000 in funding from the US Army to ramp up production of multi-walled carbon nanotubes.

NanoLab expects to soon have a capacity to produce one kilogram per day. The company was founded in 2000 to develop products based on bulk and aligned carbon nanotubes. Since that time, world-wide demand for the company’s nanotubes and nanotube arrays has increased at an accelerating pace and the year 2002 seems to be the year of the nanotube.

Carbon nanotubes are hollow crystals of carbon, less than 50 nanometers in diameter. They are stronger than steel and more electrically conductive than copper. Carbon nanotubes may soon enhance lithium batteries and replace carbon fibers in composites. Aligned carbon nanotube arrays can be used to create chemical sensors, nanotweezers and other devices including field emission products such as flat panel displays. Designs using nanotube arrays can also be used to greatly reduce the cost of optical components such as fiber optic signal demultiplexing devices.

The NanoLab core competency is the ability to produce nanotubes with particular length and diameter specifications and to grow aligned nanotube arrays on a range of surfaces including, graphite, glass and a range of metals. NanoLab produces its nanotubes using a Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process, where growth is accomplished by exposing a carbon containing gas to a catalyst. By patterning a catalyst film on a suitable substrate, patterned nanotube arrays can be grown.

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