Working with scientists from the NanoTech Institute of the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), researchers at CSIRO have developed a manufacturing process that they claim will make the production of materials made from carbon nanotubes commercially viable.
Carbon nanotubes possess a number of qualities – high tensile strength, high flexibility, high electrical and thermal conductivity, and transparency – which have sparked great interest in a number of manufacturing sectors including the electronic, automotive, energy and clothing industries.
But until now, the application of nanotube technology has been severely restricted due to the lack of a cost-effective way to produce large sheets of carbon nanotube-based material.
Now, however, the UTD/CSIRO team has demonstrated that its dry-state process can be used to make nanotube-based transparent sheets that are stronger than steel sheets of the same weight. What is more, it claims to be able to make the sheets at up to seven metres per minute.
Both the outfits are working with companies and government laboratories to bring the technology to the marketplace.