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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 4

Carbon Nanotubes -- Alien Supermaterial?

From: David Rudiak <DRudiak@aol.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 23:46:22 EST
Fwd Date: Mon, 04 Jan 1999 11:50:20 -0500
Subject: Carbon Nanotubes -- Alien Supermaterial?

Here's a brief article in the Jan. 1999 issue of Discover
Magazine on same of the latest known remarkable properties of
carbon nanotubes. A quick summary of these properties from this
article and elsewhere:

1. Up to 100 times greater tensile strength than steel --
perhaps strongest material theoretically possible.

2. Best conductor of heat of any material.

3. Superconductor or near-superconductor at room tempertures
(properties 2 & 3 closely related). They are also less dense,
hence lighter in weight, than normal metallic or ceramic

4. Can also be configured to behave like normal metals or
semiconductors -- prototype nanotube transistor has been made.
Thus electronics can theoretically be integrated directly into
superstrong structural material.

Carbon nanotubes would make one helluva material from which
build a futuristic aircraft or spacecraft. Light in weight, yet
tremendously strong and with high heat dispersal properties. All
sorts of electronics could be integrated directly into the skin
of the craft -- sensors, lights, electronic camouflage,
computational devices, you name it.

Superconducting properties could be used to build magnetic
energy storage rings integrated directly into the hull. Or the
tremendous strength could be used to manufacture humble
flywheels rotating at high speed that could also be used to
store large quantities of energy.

If the material can conduct sufficient current, very powerful
magnetic fields could be generated in a lightweight craft. This
would be the basis for practical magnetohydrodynamic atmospheric
propulsion. Strong magnetic fields could also be used for
partial "inertial dampening" to protect occupants from the
effects of high acceleration (same principle as the "floating
frog" demonstration from last year). Additionally, the great
strength of the material would keep any supermagnet from
literally exploding, a serious problem that must be dealt with
in the design of any powerful magnet.

Currently carbon nanotubes are little more than microscopic
whiskers in research laboratories. However, the potential is
obviously enormous. It sounds like the sort of material with
which to build our mythical flying saucers (perhaps integrated
with metals in the form of composites or laminates of various

With structural elements, energy storage, propulsion, and
electronics perhaps all integrated and constructed from the same
basic material, the remains of an exploded saucer might look a
good deal more uniform than that of an exploded 747. Witnesses
handling such material might also speak of it being very
lightweight yet being resistant to heat and having great

I think most of you can guess what I'm driving at here. Anyway,
here's the article.


January 1999, Discover Magazine, page 38

Technology 1998

Tomorrow's Tubes

Ever since they were discovered in 1991, carbon nanotubes --
cylindrical molecules of graphite that look a bitr like
rolled-up chicken wire -- have been touted as the material of
the future. Pound for pound, carbon nanotubes are about a
hundred times stronger than steel and transport heat better than
any other known material. But while bridges suspended from
whisker-thin nanotube cables are probably some decades away, a
newly discovered realm of application for the strange molecules
-- electronics -- may be at hand.

When a carbon atom links up with neighboring carbons to make a
sheet of graphite, some of the atoms' electrons are left
unbound, free to roam around and conduct electricity throughout
the sheet. Because carbon nanotubes are simply graphite tubes,
it was not surprising that they could also conduct electricity.

But in June, Walter de Heer and his colleagues at Georgia Tech
found that nanotubes can do something no ordinary wires can do
-- conduct electricity with almost no resistance at room

While nanotubes are not superconductors (the current in a
superconductor, unlike that in nanotubes, continues to flow even
when the power source is shut off), their highly regular
molecular structure allows electrons to flow freely without
losing energy in collisions with stray atoms. Resistance-free
nanotube wires could greatly reduce the size of electronic

Other research groups found equally surprising properties. In
January, teams at Harvard and at Delft University of Technology
in the Netherlands demonstrated that nanotubes made of a single
layer of carbon could conduct electricity either like a metal or
like a semiconductor, depending on the alignment of carbon atoms
in the nanotube. By May, Cees Dekker of the Delft team had
managed to rig up the world's first nanotube transitor; it was
less than a tenth of the size of a conventional semiconductor

Physicsts are already talking about stringing together nanotubes
to create carbon-based molecular electronic devices to replace
the ubiquitous silicon- based computer chips.

Says Walter de Heer: "There's a new era of electronics awaiting
for us."

--Jeffrey Winters

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