Print 65 comment(s) - last by ekv.. on Mar 10 at 2:41 AM

Researchers used carbon nanotubes for breakthrough

The storage and generation of electricity is a hotbed of scientific study around the world. New and improved methods of storing electricity have a myriad of potential uses from phones and laptops that run longer to new electric vehicles with much greater driving range.

At the center of much of the research in the storage and generation of power in batteries and other devices are carbon nanotubes. The carbon nanotube has been studied for decades and new advances over the last few years have made the nanotubes easier to produce and have offered breakthroughs in the use of carbon nanotubes. Scientists at Rice University made a breakthrough in carbon nanotube processing in November of 2009 that uses processes similar to those that have been employed in the plastics industry to make the production of carbon nanotubes in bulk much easier.

Researchers in late 2009 also found that defective carbon nanotubes are more efficient at storing energy than carbon nanotubes that are uniform in size. In February 2010, Bayer announced that it was opening the world's largest carbon nanotube production facility to develop carbon nanotubes dubbed "Baytubes" using multi-wall carbon nanotube technology. The facility is expected to produce about 200 metric tons of nanotubes each year.

Now, a team of researchers at MIT have announced that they have made a new breakthrough for producing electricity with carbon nanotubes. The discovery may one day lead to a myriad of new devices such as sensors the size of dust that can be dispersed in air to monitor the environment or the tech might lead to implantable devices that produce their own power. The researchers discovered a phenomenon that was previously unknown that produces powerful waved of energy that shoots though carbon nanotubes, producing electricity.

The team of researchers called the phenomenon "thermopower waves." MIT's Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Professor of Chemical Engineering, and senior author of the paper reporting the findings said, "[Thermopower waves] opens up a new area of energy research, which is rare."

The thermal wave is a moving pulse of heat that travels along the microscopic carbon nanotubes and drives electrons along with it creating an electrical current. The team coated carbon nanotubes with a highly reactive fuel that produces heat as it decomposes. The fuel was ignited at one end of the nanotube with a laser beam or high-voltage spark.

The resulting ignition created a fast moving thermal wave that travels about 10,000 times faster than the normal speed of the reaction according to the team. The temperature of the ring of heat reaches about 3,000 kelvins, pushing electrons along the tube creating a substantial electrical current. Strano says that the combustion waves have been mathematically studied for more than a hundred years, but he claims to be the first to predict that the combustion waves could be guided by a nanotube or nanowire and push an electrical current along the wire.

Strano says, "[In early experiments] lo and behold, we were really surprised by the size of the resulting voltage peak." He continued saying, "There's something else happening here. We call it electron entrainment since part of the current appears to scale with wave velocity.

Strano says that since the discovery is so new it is hard to predict how it could be used in practical application. The team plans to conduct more research using different kinds of reactive materials for the fuel coating and the team suspects that by using other materials for the coating the front of the wave could oscillate to produce an alternating current. The team points out that most of the power generated with the new method is given off as light and heat and work is ongoing to make the process more efficient.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: for those that dont know kelvin
By chmilz on 3/8/2010 1:21:40 PM , Rating: 2
And for the 6.5 billion humans that don't have a clue about Fahrenheit?

RE: for those that dont know kelvin
By jlips6 on 3/8/10, Rating: -1
By Murloc on 3/8/2010 1:40:22 PM , Rating: 3
celsius actually

By Smartless on 3/8/2010 1:43:02 PM , Rating: 2
please tell me you forgot the /sarcasm or the

RE: for those that dont know kelvin
By SeeManRun on 3/8/2010 2:11:04 PM , Rating: 1
so about 2737 degrees Celsius.

RE: for those that dont know kelvin
By theapparition on 3/8/2010 3:36:16 PM , Rating: 3
Screw your Celsius, I want Rankine. ;P

By LeBeourfCurtaine on 3/8/2010 6:21:08 PM , Rating: 1
Given the bountiful wisdom of Wikipedia your prayers are answered:

4480.66 degrees °R

Now pass the ouzo...

RE: for those that dont know kelvin
By GPSnoopy on 3/8/2010 3:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
3000 °C - 273 °C = 2,727 °C

I'm sure the error was due to a gamma ray passing by.

By jlips6 on 3/9/2010 10:13:23 PM , Rating: 2
yup, it's a typographical mistake.

By MrBlastman on 3/8/2010 1:55:23 PM , Rating: 1
I hereby declare that the center of the Earth and its iron core is property and territory of the United States.


Screw your Celcius! The world really DOES revolve around Americans now!



RE: for those that dont know kelvin
By fic2 on 3/8/2010 2:01:30 PM , Rating: 4
By melgross on 3/8/2010 2:18:22 PM , Rating: 2
What about the 7 billion who don't know Kelvin?

RE: for those that dont know kelvin
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 2:32:20 PM , Rating: 5
"And for the 6.5 billion humans that don't have a clue about Fahrenheit"

Anyone too stupid to be able to convert between Kelvin and Celcius in their head should have their genes removed from the pool as soon as possible.

By ViroMan on 3/9/2010 4:41:12 AM , Rating: 2
why would I put them in the pool? The chlorine would eventually bleach them.

By NubWobble on 3/9/2010 5:37:16 AM , Rating: 1
I'd prefer to see those people still clinging to Fahrenheit removed from the GENE pool. And I'm glad to know I use Kelvin everyday when I ask what the temperature will be that day when I wake up in the morning.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki