top of page

Carbon Nano Tubes

carbon nano tubes
carbon nano tubes

Carbon Nano Tubes

Carbon nano tubes, often referred to as "carbon nano tubes" (CNTs), are a remarkable and cutting-edge class of nanomaterials that have revolutionized the landscape of materials science and technology. These cylindrical structures, composed of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, exhibit extraordinary properties and hold immense potential for a wide range of applications. In this blog, we delve into the fascinating world of carbon nano tubes, exploring their structure, properties, and the myriad ways in which they are shaping the future of science and technology. Whether you're a scientist, engineer, or simply intrigued by the latest advancements in materials science, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the incredible realm of carbon nano tubes.

What is carbon nanomaterial?

Carbon nano tubes, often abbreviated as CNTs, are a prime example of a remarkable carbon nanomaterial. These one-dimensional cylindrical structures are composed of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, resembling rolled-up sheets of graphene. Carbon nano tubes can have diameters on the nanoscale, typically ranging from about 0.4 nanometers to a few nanometers. They come in various forms, including single-walled carbon nano tubes (SWCNTs) comprising a single layer of carbon atoms and multi-walled carbon nano tubes (MWCNTs) with multiple concentric layers.

SWCNTs can have exceptional tensile strength, up to 63 GigaPascals (GPa), which is over 100 times greater than that of steel, despite being significantly lighter. Additionally, their electrical conductivity rivals that of copper, making them excellent candidates for applications in nanoelectronics. MWCNTs, with their multiple concentric layers, exhibit even greater mechanical strength.

Carbon nano tubes' high aspect ratio and remarkable properties make them ideal candidates for a wide array of applications. These applications span advanced materials in aerospace, where they are used to reinforce composites, to cutting-edge electronics, such as field-effect transistors. Furthermore, their potential for use in drug delivery systems, medical technology, and even as efficient catalyst supports in chemical reactions makes them a subject of extensive research and innovation in the field of nanotechnology. Their versatility and unique properties continue to drive significant advancements in science and technology.

Who invented Carbon Nano Tubes
Who invented Carbon Nano Tubes

Who invented carbon nanotubes?

nano tubes were first discovered and characterized by Japanese physicist Sumio Iijima in 1991, who used a high-resolution transmission electron microscope to identify and describe these remarkable structures. Carbon nano tubes are composed of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice and can exhibit various properties depending on their structure. They can have diameters as small as 1 nanometer and lengths ranging from micrometers to millimeters. Iijima's groundbreaking work paved the way for the exploration of carbon nano tubes' unique electronic, mechanical, and thermal properties, making them a critical component in nanotechnology and materials science. Since their discovery, carbon nano tubes have found applications in fields such as electronics, materials engineering, and nanomedicine, owing to their exceptional strength, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity.

How are carbon nanotubes made?

Let's delve deeper into the technical aspects of carbon nanotube synthesis:

1. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD):

In CVD, the choice of catalyst plays a critical role in determining the diameter and chirality (the specific arrangement of carbon atoms) of the resulting carbon nano tubes. Temperature control is essential, with temperatures typically ranging from 700 to 900 degrees Celsius. The hydrocarbon feedstock, often methane (CH4) or ethylene (C2H4), decomposes on the catalyst surface, and the carbon atoms assemble into nano tubes. The diameter of CNTs produced by CVD can be controlled within a narrow range, typically between 0.6 to 2 nanometers for SWCNTs.

2. Arc Discharge:

In the arc discharge method, a direct current arc is generated between two graphite electrodes in an inert gas environment. The tremendous heat and electric field cause the evaporation of carbon, resulting in the formation of carbon clusters that subsequently condense into carbon nano tubes. SWCNTs and MWCNTs are produced, with SWCNTs generally having smaller diameters, typically ranging from 0.4 to 2 nanometers, while MWCNTs can have outer diameters ranging from 2 to 100 nanometers, with several concentric layers.

3. Laser Ablation:

Laser ablation involves using a high-energy laser to vaporize a carbon target in the presence of a reactive gas, typically helium or argon. The generated carbon vapor condenses into nano tubes. Laser ablation is known for producing high-quality SWCNTs with diameters in the range of 0.4 to 2 nanometers.

4. Chemical Reduction:

Chemical reduction methods use carbon-containing compounds like graphite oxide or carbon nanofibers. These compounds are chemically treated to reduce them to carbon nano tubes. This process can result in the formation of both SWCNTs and MWCNTs.

The choice of synthesis method, catalyst, and growth conditions allows researchers to tailor the properties and structure of carbon nano tubes for specific applications, whether it be for high-performance electronics, advanced composites, or biomedical applications. The precise control over nanotube diameter, chirality, and quality is essential for harnessing their unique properties.

What are the 2 types of carbon nanotubes?

Carbon nano tubes (CNTs) are primarily classified into two distinct types based on their structural characteristics: single-walled carbon nano tubes (SWCNTs) and multi-walled carbon nano tubes (MWCNTs).

1. Single-Walled Carbon Nano tubes (SWCNTs):

SWCNTs are composed of a single cylindrical graphene sheet seamlessly rolled into a tube. They can exhibit remarkable electronic properties, with diameters typically ranging from approximately 0.4 to 2 nanometers. These extremely small diameters result in SWCNTs having exceptional electrical conductivity and making them promising candidates for next-generation nanoelectronics and high-performance materials.

2. Multi-Walled Carbon Nano tubes (MWCNTs):

In contrast, MWCNTs consist of multiple concentric layers of graphene sheets, akin to nested tubes. MWCNTs can have outer diameters ranging from 2 to 100 nanometers, with the number of walls varying. The multiple walls offer enhanced mechanical strength, and MWCNTs are well-suited for applications requiring toughness and durability, such as reinforcing composite materials, and they also find utility in electrochemical and energy storage applications.

The distinct properties of these two types of carbon nano tubes make them highly versatile and valuable materials for a wide range of scientific and industrial applications, from advanced electronics to aerospace components.

What is the density of CNT?

The density of carbon nano tubes (CNTs) varies depending on their type and structure. Single-walled carbon nano tubes (SWCNTs) and multi-walled carbon nano tubes (MWCNTs) have different densities due to their distinct arrangements of carbon atoms.

1. Single-Walled Carbon Nano tubes (SWCNTs):

SWCNTs, being composed of a single graphene sheet seamlessly rolled into a tube, have a very low density. The density of SWCNTs typically ranges from about 1.3 to 2.1 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³). This low density contributes to their exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, making them attractive for lightweight structural materials and composites.

2. Multi-Walled Carbon Nano tubes (MWCNTs):

MWCNTs, on the other hand, consist of multiple concentric layers of graphene sheets. As a result, they have a higher density compared to SWCNTs. The density of MWCNTs can vary depending on the number of walls and the specific synthesis method but generally falls in the range of 1.7 to 2.1 g/cm³.

The density values provided are approximate, and they may slightly vary depending on factors such as tube diameter, length, and defects in the nanotube structure. The unique combination of low density and exceptional mechanical properties makes carbon nanotubes a valuable material for a wide range of applications, including aerospace, materials science, and nanocomposite development.

How strong are carbon nanotubes?

How strong are carbon nanotubes?
How strong are carbon nanotubes?

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) exhibit extraordinary strength, making them one of the strongest materials known. The strength of CNTs is typically measured in terms of their tensile strength, which quantifies how much tensile (pulling) stress they can withstand before breaking. SWCNTs, due to their seamless single-walled structure, are exceptionally strong, with a tensile strength on the order of 100 to 150 gigapascals (GPa). This is more than ten times stronger than steel, which has a tensile strength of about 0.4 to 0.7 GPa.

MWCNTs, while not as strong as SWCNTs, still possess impressive tensile strength values. Their strength can range from 11 to 63 GPa, depending on the number of walls and structural perfection. The outer walls in MWCNTs bear most of the load, contributing to their overall strength.

These remarkable tensile strength properties have led to the exploration of CNTs as potential materials for reinforcing composites, creating lightweight yet incredibly strong materials for aerospace, structural engineering, and other high-performance applications. The exceptional strength of CNTs is a testament to their potential to revolutionize various industries and technologies.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page