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Superstrong nanotube sheets made, targeted at solar sails reports on an advance published in the Aug 19, 2005 Science: “Starting from chemically grown, self-assembled structures in which nanotubes are aligned like trees in a forest, the sheets are produced at up to seven meters per minute by the coordinated rotation of a trillion nanotubes per minute for every centimeter of sheet width…Strength normalized to weight is important for many applications, especially in space and aerospace, and this property of the nanotube sheets already exceeds that of the strongest steel sheets and the Mylar and Kapton sheets used for ultralight air vehicles and proposed for solar sails for space applications, according to the researchers. The nanotube sheets can be made so thin that a square kilometer of solar sail would weigh only 30 kilograms.” The work was done at University of Texas at Dallas and CSIRO, a national lab in Australia.

12 Responses to “Superstrong nanotube sheets made, targeted at solar sails”

  1. Robert Bradbury Says:

    Has anyone even bothered to read Drexler’s Masters Thesis from MIT which revolves around this very topic.

    Crap we are dealing with stuff that Eric dealt with perhaps thirty years ago.

    No wonder humanity cannot advance — nobody does their friggen homework!

  2. subhash Says:

    I am located in bangalore and would be interested in knowing more about this product

  3. Robert Bradbury Says:

    As I have pointed out elsewhere these facts were explored in Drexler’s Masters Thesis at MIT some 20+ years ago. There isn’t much that appears to be new here.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Also see:


  5. Thomas Miller Says:

    There is also an article on MSNBC reporting the same.

  6. John Novak Says:


    When you can show me one reference, anywhere, to Drexler producing materials like this– not describing the materials, not describing how they might be produced, but actually producing materials like this, in macro quantities, no less– then I will concede that this is neither new nor newsworthy.

    The significance here is that these materials are now being produced nearly as quickly as commercially spun wool. Do not turn your nose up at the leap from abstract theory to a commercially viable, macro-scalable process. If it were trivial, it would have been donetwenty years ago.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    But here is my question regarding this nanotube sheet-making ability. Instead of solar cells, can the stuff be used to produce STRUCTURAL sheets of nanotube material that is stronger than steel? The articles claim that the stuff is stronger than steel for the same weight, so, if they thicken it up a bit, say they make a quarter inch thick sheet of it, will that be able to be formed into I Beams and car body shells and armor and so on and so forth, and be ultra tough and strong?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Is not the newness that this group is more successfully implementing and engineering the theories that Drexler had about solar sails than other groups. Being able to spin the sheets of trillions of pure carbon nanotubes of nearly any length and being able to easily work with them seems to be a good way to bring the properties of single carbon nanotubes to wide applications. Thus this seems important for all of the commercial applications in artificial muscles, protective clothing, thermal heat pipes, sensors, electron field emitters, ultra-high intensity lamps, displays, structural composites, supercapacitors, batteries, fuel cells and electronic textiles.

  9. Richard Jones Says:

    Robert, it’s no disrespect to Drexler’s Masters thesis to point out that there’s a substantial difference between suggesting something theoretically and finding out a way to implement it in practise. If you can do it in a lab, it’s new, no matter how long ago it was that someone said you can do it in principle. My copy of Nanosystems isn’t to hand, but doesn’t it say in the dedication something like “To the experimentalists – they do all the hard work”?

  10. Nanoman Says:

    This is very amazing but my question is this: The articles claim the nanotube sheets are stronger than steel. Does this mean we can grow these sheets not only for solar cells, but, also as new structural materials to replace structural steel? What would the limits of using this PARTICULAR METHOD to make nanotube structural materials and walls, armor etc?

  11. mark Says:

    The difference is … they’re making it. Sheets of pure CNT 5cm across, 50 nanometers thick, supporting structures thousands of times its own weight …

  12. Richard Says:

    How thick would the material have to be to stop a high powered .308 round?

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