Carbon nanotubes are new materials which hold great promise due to their extraordinary electrical, mechanical, optical, thermal, and chemical properties. Their current applications range from improving consumer electronics, to delivering medicine to cells, to strengthening airplane components.
Like thousands of other new materials which enter the market each year, their properties are continually being evaluated and their safe-handling procedures continue to be modified. This ongoing research is occurring at multiple academic, governmental and industry organizations.
Carbon nanotubes come in many different forms and purities. They range from flexible, thin, few-walled or single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs) to rigid, long, thick, multi-walled nanotubes (MWNTs), with a spectrum of characteristics and properties in-between.
Carbon nanotubes have a strong tendency to rope and tangle. Multiwall nanotubes are typically long (greater than 10 micron) fibrillar structures with a high concentration of defects and little tendency to rope and tangle. MWNTs are used in a variety of systems to add strength to polymeric solids.