Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Nanotubes are members of the fullerene structural family.  (CNTs) are best described as a seamless cylindrical hollow fibers, comprised of a single sheet of pure graphite (a hexagonal lattice of carbon, similar to a chain link fence), having a diameter of 0.7 to 50 nanometers with lengths generally in the range of 10’s of microns.

Synthesis-

Techniques have been developed to produce nanotubes in sizable quantities, including arc discharge, laser ablation, high-pressure carbon monoxide disproportionation, and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Most of these processes take place in a vacuum or with process gases. CVD growth of CNTs can occur in vacuum or at atmospheric pressure.

Properties-

1)Strength
 Carbon nanotubes are the strongest and stiffest materials yet discovered in terms of tensile strength and elastic modulus respectively. This is due to the covalent sp2bonds formed between the individual carbon atoms. Studies, such as one conducted in 2008, revealed that individual CNT shells have strengths of up to ~100 gigapascals (15,000,000 psi).

2)Hardness
Standard single-walled carbon nanotubes can withstand a pressure up to 25 GPa without [plastic/permanent] deformation. They then undergo a transformation to superhard phase nanotubes.
The bulk modulus of superhard phase nanotubes is 462 to 546 GPa, even higher than that of diamond (420 GPa for single diamond crystal). 

3)Electrical Properties
Carbon nanotubes are either metallic or semiconducting along the tubular axis.In theory, metallic nanotubes can carry an electric current density of 4 × 109 A/cm2, which is more than 1,000 times greater than those of metals such as copper.

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