Rice researchers power line-voltage light bulb with nanotube wire VIDEO
Rice researchers power line-voltage light bulb with nanotube wire.
Cables made of carbon nanotubes are inching toward electrical conductivities seen in metal wires, and that may light up interest among a range of industries, according to Rice University researchers.
A Rice lab made such a cable from double-walled carbon nanotubes and powered a fluorescent light bulb at standard line voltage -- a true test of the novel material's ability to stake a claim in energy systems of the future.
The work appears this week in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
Highly conductive nanotube-based cables could be just as efficient as traditional metals at a sixth of the weight, said Enrique Barrera, a Rice professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. They may find wide use first in applications where weight is a critical factor, such as airplanes and automobiles, and in the future could even replace traditional wiring in homes.
The cables developed in the study are spun from pristine nanotubes and can be tied together without losing their conductivity. To increase conductivity of the cables, the team doped them with iodine and the cables remained stable. The conductivity-to-weight ratio (called specific conductivity) beats metals, including copper and silver, and is second only to the metal with highest specific conductivity, sodium.