Carbon nanotubes & Graphene

What are they?

On the unique structure

You probably recall these six-membered rings from high-school shown on the left, right? For those who do not, each ball represents a carbon atom and the stick is a bond that holds them together. As you can see, this hexagonal lattice is highly symmetric and even a relatively small section contains many carbon atoms. It is beyond imagination how many of these carbon atoms are contained by for instance 1 gram of carbon nanotubes or graphene powder. This structure is quite unique because the carbon atoms hold each other quite thigtly what makes these materials the strongest on Earth. Moreover, each of these carbon atoms has got one spare electron, which can be used to conduct electricity with very little effort. If such network of carbon atoms is flat we call it graphene. Alternatively, we can also "roll it up" to create a hollow cylinder and then we have a carbon nanotube.

The properties

The advantage of using carbon nanotubes or graphene is not restricted to electrical or mechanical properties. These nanostructures also excell on many different fronts. For instance, they can conduct heat much easier than copper, which is commonly the number one choice for this application. Moreover, due to their color, they have the highest degree of blackness, which we can currently imagine. That is very important for the manufacture of materials, which are needed to absorb unwanted light. In fact, there is a wide unexhausted spectrum of properties and applications for these materials. Despite that more than 20 years have passed since their discovery, they still keep surprising us with new features. Stay tuned!