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Introduction to Carbon Nanotubes

A carbon nanotubes are cylindrical sheets of carbon that were discovered in 1991. Nanotubes have diameters of about 1 nm and lengths up to a few centimeters. Because of their small size and amazing physical properties, nanotubes have been a popular subject for condensed matter physics research as well as a top candidate for applications in nanotechnology.

Quick Facts about Carbon Nanotubes

  • Carbon nanotubes can have tensile strengths 60 times larger than steel

  • Several nanotubes of differing diameter can form nested structures called multiwalled nanotubes


  • Carbon nanotubes can be either a metal or semiconductor

  • Some nanotubes can support electrical current densities 1000 times higher than those in copper and silver

  • Nanotubes can exhibit ballistic conduction where current carriers flow without collision