Tags: carbon nanotubes

Description

100 amps of electricity crackle in a vacuum chamber, creating a spark that transforms carbon vapor into tiny structures. Depending on the conditions, these structures can be shaped like little, 60-atom soccer balls, or like rolled-up tubes of atoms, arranged in a chicken-wire pattern, with rounded ends. These tiny, carbon nanotubes, discovered by Sumio Iijima at NEC labs in 1991, have amazing properties. They are 100 times stronger than steel, but weigh only one-sixth as much. They are incredibly resilient under physical stress; even when kinked to a 120-degree angle, they will bounce back to their original form, undamaged. And they can carry electrical current at levels that would vaporize ordinary copper wires.

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