U. T. Dallas Scientists Spin Carbon Nanotube Fibers with Record Strength and Toughness

June 12, 2003 | Source: Nanotechnology Now

Nanotechnology researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, have announced a breakthrough in spinning carbon nanotube composite fibers that are tougher than any reported polymer fiber made by man or nature.

The toughness, or capability to absorb energy, of the UTD fibers is more than four times that of spider silk and 17 times that of the Kevlar used in bullet-proof vests – making them what is believed to be the toughest known material. These fibers have twice the stiffness and strength, and 20 times the toughness, of the same weight and length steel wire.

The discovery is outlined in an article in the June 12 issue of Nature.

Among the possible applications:

  • Clothing woven from the fibers that could store electrical energy, much like a battery, and be used to power various electrical devices.
  • Synthetic muscles capable of generating 100 times the force of the same diameter natural muscle.
  • Distributed fiber sensors able to monitor the movement and health of first responders to emergencies.
  • A power source for spacecraft on long voyages through conversion of thermal energy to electrical energy using nanotube fibers.
  • A new generation of bullet-proof vests and anti-ballistic materials that are much more effective than those in use today.
  • Multifunctional fibers for “micro air vehicles” the size of an insect that could replace current, much larger military drones used to gather intelligence remotely.