UCLA developing stronger carbon nanotube materials

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science been awarded $4.5 million over four years by the U.S. Department of Defense to strengthen carbon nanotube yarns and sheets, materials that hold great promise for advancing satellite technology.

Since their discovery in 1993, carbon nanotubes have attracted great academic and industrial interest, but commercial applications have been slow to develop, primarily because of lingering technical problems that reduce the nanotubes’ strength.

Now, a group of UCLA researchers led by Larry Carlson, head of UCLA’s Easton Institute of Technology Advancement and director of new materials at UCLA Engineering, intends to correct various technical issues, potentially making the yarns and sheets 10 times stronger.

Nanocomp Technologies has carbon nanotube yarns with the following strength now

breaking strengths up to 3 GPa expressed or in other terms: 1.5 Nt/Tex or 450,000 psi and with fracture toughness that is higher than aramids (such as Kevlar® or Twaron®). Our CNT sheets have breaking strengths, without binders, that range from 500 MPa to 1.2 GPa depending upon tube orientation. Aluminum breaks at 500 MPa, carbon steel breaks around 1 GPa.

UCLA would be trying to get carbon nanotube yarns up to 30 GPa of strength.

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