Nanotubes from NASA

A NASA-developed process for manufacturing nanotubes is spurring the development of new companies.


A new company based in Austin, Texas, Nanotailor, has licensed NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s unique single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) fabrication process with plans to make high-quality, low-cost SWCNTs available commercially.


‘The nanotech industry is growing by more than 40 percent a year, but multi-walled carbon nanotubes have been the primary technology used. Single-walled technology just hasn’t taken off because of the cost,’ noted Nanotailor president Ramon Perales. ‘If we can get the cost down, we can be a step ahead and make higher quality nanotechnology more affordable.’


NASA Goddard, located in Greenbelt, Maryland is helping nanotechnology companies like Nanotailor do just that through a simpler, safer, and much less costly manufacturing process for SWCNTs.


Developed by retired GSFC researcher Dr Jeannette Benavides, the key to the innovation is the ability to produce bundles of SWCNTs without using a metal catalyst, dramatically reducing pre- and post-production costs while generating higher yields of better quality product.


Other start-up companies that have licensed the process include Idaho Space Materials in Boise and E-City NanoTechnologies in the metro Baltimore area.


With a license agreement in place, Nanotailor has built and tested a prototype based on NASA Goddard’s process, and is now working on commercialisation efforts with a plan to go to market by the end of 2007.


Device integrators and nanotechnology-based device companies will likely be among Nanotailor’s first customers, though the company hopes to cater to a wide variety of industries and research organizations. ‘All industries currently using multi-walled tubes will be able to benefit from this technology,’ said Nanotailor chief technology officer Reginald Parker.