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Nanotube sheets
August 19, 2005 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Nanotube sheets! "The ribbons are transparent, flexible, and conduct electricity. Weight for weight, they are stronger than steel sheets, yet a square kilometre of the material would weigh only 30 kilograms. 'This is basically a new material.'" Applications could include flexible TV screens, light panels and that digital paper they keep telling us is coming soon.
posted by me3dia (31 comments total)

 
This sounds awesome, although I feel like I see a story about something like this every few months. When will I get the laptop that folds into my wallet, dammit?
posted by brain_drain at 9:45 AM on August 19, 2005


Elevator to space?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:46 AM on August 19, 2005


Elevator to space?

IANAME, but in the Slahsdot post on the same article, they mention that this material lacks the tensile strength something like a space elevator would require.

But bring on the electronic paper!
posted by briank at 10:00 AM on August 19, 2005


It lacks the tensile strength now. Further development will probably fix that problem. I hope these folks will share their techniques with the Space Elevator people!
posted by zoogleplex at 10:02 AM on August 19, 2005


Neat idea. You could use it to turn a wall into a huge lamp, for instance.
posted by clevershark at 10:09 AM on August 19, 2005


Are they fitted or not? I'd like some in queen size, please.
posted by ooga_booga at 10:16 AM on August 19, 2005


Would nanotube sheets keep me cooler than cotton or linen sheets? Because I get really hot at night and I think the cooling channels might just be what I need.
posted by fenriq at 10:18 AM on August 19, 2005


Very cool. I feel like this is something right out of Robinson's Mars Trilogy=a technology that's been right around the corner for a while and now seems to be pulling into the station. I'm definitely aboard for digital paper, if only to further piss off the "Hemp is perfect" crowd.
posted by OmieWise at 10:19 AM on August 19, 2005


I, for one, welcome our new nanotube sheet overlords.
posted by ewkpates at 10:19 AM on August 19, 2005


Man, this is so Jetson's. (My grandchildren will never believe that when I was a kid, we didn't have the internet.)
posted by Specklet at 10:24 AM on August 19, 2005


Dibbs on the patent for self-warming, light emitting, tv equipped nanotube underwear.
posted by jaimev at 10:24 AM on August 19, 2005


Why would anyone want a flexible television screen? Didn't we spend years and billions creating flat screens?

PS thanks for the link- I expect this is the story on nano breakthrough that Yahoo pulled earlier today before I could reach it
posted by IndigoJones at 10:30 AM on August 19, 2005


It's about goddamn time.
posted by nightchrome at 10:44 AM on August 19, 2005


whatever i do all those things now with cardboard tubes
posted by poppo at 10:45 AM on August 19, 2005


Do they make good bedspreads?
posted by jmccorm at 11:04 AM on August 19, 2005


> Why would anyone want a flexible television screen?

Roll it up for transport; unroll to, for example, read a big interactive map while you're backpacking. Or to view pornography in the woods.

Maybe you could make a sort of force field out of it: transparent, electrifiable, and able to display pornography.

But me? I want to make a big kite out of it with a picture signal sent up the string. So everyone can see my pornography.
posted by pracowity at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2005


I'm definitely aboard for digital paper, if only to further piss off the "Hemp is perfect" crowd.

Hemp is an excellent source of carbon and is easily converted into carbon nanotube ribbon while taking up 1/4 of the area of trees, aerating the soil, providing me with sweet, sweet THC and saving the human race
posted by nTeleKy at 11:16 AM on August 19, 2005


I agree, nightchrome. How long have we been hearing about these buckyball thingies. I've been waiting to see something very consumer-tangible come out of all that. It is about goddamn time.
posted by redteam at 11:30 AM on August 19, 2005


Roll it up for transport; unroll to, for example, read a big interactive map while you're backpacking. Or to view pornography in the woods.

Fair enough. Myself, I like to make screen viewing an Event, my televion an altar. Also, me and nature, we got issues. (Aren't the woods for getting away from technology?)

PS- this kite of yours- try not to scare the horses.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:55 AM on August 19, 2005


"Weight for weight, they are stronger than steel sheets, yet a square kilometre of the material would weigh only 30 kilograms."

aaargghhh. Somebody please put whoever wrote that sentence back in their blue collar.
posted by lastobelus at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2005


Yeah, i'd like to see the tensile strength of a steel sheet that is 20,000 times thinner than paper. But i won't, because THEY ARE NOT MADE. (Are they?)
posted by gorgor_balabala at 12:26 PM on August 19, 2005


If they can make this stuff cheaply enough, I bet the automotive industry would love to make a car that weighs a few hundred kilograms less than present technology allows for.
posted by alumshubby at 12:27 PM on August 19, 2005


My question is if they've fixed the toxic nature of these things (i don't have time for a link but i do remember seeing some articles about how buckyballs have proven to be a toxic material). Let me also say i can't wait to ride our new elevator to space!
posted by NGnerd at 12:55 PM on August 19, 2005


They don't even need to make it cheaply for it to be used in cars. The Ferrari Enzo is all carbon-fiber to the point where replacing a bumper is something ridiculous like $20,000. It's not meant to be exactly a commuter car, but if it's viable for production someone will use it no matter what the price.
posted by geoff. at 1:32 PM on August 19, 2005


...the automotive industry would love to make a car that weighs a few hundred kilograms less than present technology allows for.

Oh, I dunno. I bet if GM got their hands on this stuff, they'd use it to turn some 10,000-pound mega-SUV prototype into an 8,000-pound production vehicle.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:48 PM on August 19, 2005


> Aren't the woods for getting away from technology?

Yeah, I was of course joking. I don't even have a phone. Or a camera. Or a TV. I take books, pen, and paper to the woods. One of those guys. But I do see how skinny, lightweight television screens would be sold to skinny, lightweight gadget heads.

Still, I think this stuff (or something like it) could be used to do good, simple things. Maybe cheap extra layers for windows and walls that would make people more comfortable and reduce energy use. Maybe reduced vehicle weight, as mentioned above, to reduce collision injuries and fuel waste. Maybe a clothing material. Places like America already have enough crap; I try to think of things that might help make growing supernations like China and India grow sanely. Or, say, in parts of Africa where maybe new materials like this could be turned into strong, light, cheap insect nets that people could throw over their entire homes and gardens to reduce crop loss and disease transmission at the same time.
posted by pracowity at 2:27 PM on August 19, 2005


Here is some info on the health and safety concerns of NanoTech.

I hope we won't repeat some of our past mistakes with new materials, although I don't think most people fully understand the scope of the problem. Our bodies are now full of compunds that didn't even exist 50-60 years ago.
posted by sp dinsmoor at 2:59 PM on August 19, 2005


My grandchildren will never believe that when I was a kid, we didn't have the internet.

My 7-year-old doesn't believe we didn't have the internet when I was a kid. (She definitely doesn't believe we didn't have personal computers when I was 16).

"But Daddy, how did you go to Barbie .com then?"
posted by Turtles all the way down at 4:12 PM on August 19, 2005


posted by NGnerd:
My question is if they've fixed the toxic nature of these things (i don't have time for a link but i do remember seeing some articles about how buckyballs have proven to be a toxic material).


Fullerenes, AKA buckyballs, are not the same thing as nanotubes. Also scientists have been working on the toxicity issue.

Another interesting nanotech site.
posted by crocos at 6:08 PM on August 19, 2005


Turtles: My nephew asked me last year if I listened to rap music when I was a kid. I said, no, there was no rap music then. He said, Awww, man!

I hope these folks will share their techniques with the Space Elevator people!

Surely that would violate some Alien Sedition act, or something.

How do we know the Space Elevator people are evil? Because they push every button as the doors close ...
posted by dhartung at 10:25 PM on August 19, 2005


You could build a space elevator out of commercially available kevlar-epoxy composites; it would just be very, very, very expensive. New materials aren't about making an elevator possible in a technical sense; they're about making an elevator possible in economic terms.

Twenty years ago carbon-fiber composites were the stuff of military aerospace and cyberpunk novels. Today they're commonplace and unexceptional. I predict a similar trajectory for buckythings.
posted by hattifattener at 11:05 PM on August 19, 2005


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