The special nature of carbon combines with the molecular perfection of buckytubes (single-wall carbon nanotubes) to endow them with exceptionally high material properties such as electrical and thermal conductivity, strength, stiffness, and toughness. No other element in the periodic table bonds to itself in an extended network with the strength of the carbon-carbon bond. The delocalized pi-electron donated by each atom is free to move about the entire structure, rather than stay home with its donor atom, giving rise to the first molecule with metallic-type electrical conductivity. The high-frequency carbon-carbon bond vibrations provide an intrinsic thermal conductivity higher than even diamond.
In most materials, however, the actual observed material properties – strength, electrical conductivity, etc. – are degraded very substantially by the occurrence of defects in their structure. For example, high strength steel typically fails at about 1% of its theoretical breaking strength. Buckytubes, however, achieve values very close to their theoretical limits because of their perfection of structure – their molecular perfection. This aspect is part of the unique story of buckytubes.
Buckytubes are an example of true nanotechnology: only a nanometer in diameter, but molecules that can be manipulated chemically and physically. They open incredible applications in materials, electronics, chemical procesing and energy management.
Buckytube Enabling Technology
This includes covalent derivatization on the ends and sidewalls of the tubes, non-covalent derivatization where the Buckytubes are coated with another species, doping of the nanotubes, using the nanotubes as support for catalysts, cutting and opening the ends of tubes, alignment, and purification of Buckytubes.
Buckytube Application Technology
This includes fibers, electrochemical applications, composites, electrical conductors and a number of specific end uses.