Researchers at Rice University are working to close the gap between the strength of carbon nanotube fibers and the nanotubes they contain. In a bid for this, a team of researchers at the Brown School of Engineering, Rice University have developed a computational model. The model establishes that universal scaling relationship between nanotube length and fraction between them are parameters that can be used for fine tuning of the properties of the fiber for strength.
Interestingly, the model is a tool for engineers and scientists who develop conductive fibers for automotive, aerospace, medical, and textile applications such as smart clothing. Meanwhile, carbon nanotube fibers have been considered as a possible basis for space elevator, according to a study termed Yakobson.
As known, solitary carbon nanotubes are essentially rolled-up tubes of graphene, which is one of the strongest materials known. Meanwhile, since 2013, a number of research labs including at Rice have been bundling carbon nanotubes. This reveals its threadlike fibers are far weaker, approximately one-hundredth the strength of individual tubes.
Physical Strength of Solitary nanotube notably greater than its products
“In fact, one single nanotube is the strongest thing that can be imagined, because of its extremely strong carbon-carbon bonds, said of the associates of the study. However, when things are fabricated out of nanotubes, their strength is much weaker than expected. This poses a question, and what can be done to solve this disparity.
Meanwhile, the model demonstrates a number of facts of functional properties of nanotubes. The length of nanotubes, and friction between them are the best to understand overall fiber strength. The model further suggests strategies to improve the properties of nanotubes. The use of longer nanotubes is a simple solution for this.