Cables made out of nanowires could be just as efficient as the copper cables we've been using for more than a century, but at a fraction of the weight, according to a new paper. Braiding billions of carbon nanotubes into a nanowire cable can efficiently replace copper in a light bulb circuit.
Traditional cables are made by braiding or twisting together two or more wires or optical fibers, usually metal or silicon, to carry a current or signal. In a new study, Rice University researchers instead used double-walled carbon nanotubes, made of concentric rolled-up sheets of graphene.
To make the cable, the team grew billions of nanotubes and spun them with a polymer into tiny wires just a few centimeters long. The wires were doped with iodine to keep them stable, and then they could be tied together without compromising their conductivity, according to a Rice news release. The resulting cable is corrosion-resistant and is much lighter and less dense than copper. Its conductivity-to-weight ratio, known as specific conductivity, is better than copper and silver — it's second only to sodium in the suite of metals with the highest specific conductivity, the researchers say.
To prove it worked, Rice doctoral student Yao Zhao built a circuit that directed power through the nanocable, replacing copper wire. He turned on a CFL bulb and let it shine for several days, and saw no signs of degradation in the nanocable. Tests showed it would be just as strong and durable as copper, and would work in a wide range of temperatures, the team says.
The next step is to make longer, thicker cables that can carry a greater current, according to Enrique Barrera, a Rice professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. The nanocables could someday be used in aircraft, spacecraft and cars, and could someday even replace electrical wiring in homes, the team says. Barrera and Zhao explain the technique in the video below.
The work appears in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
This would be a fantastic technology to impliment in the aviation industry...in almost any industry, really.
One step closer to a space elevator ! ^^
bored? lets go mine the stars... ^^
Here's the big question, what's the cost of production $/foot?
I would think that with that new finding a self propelling light sail to the stars isn't that much further away. The light sail would use nuclear fission to generate electricity, a nanotech light sail and a non-glass covered bulb's, (vacuum of space you don't need a glass cover). The acceleration rate at first would be very minimal, like an ion drive but the final speed of the starcraft would be much faster than anything we have today, apx 30 percent the speed of light, including nuclear fusion...
Here is a link:
I like. How much more efficient is it for line loss? Next I want to see a graphene surface to create a maglev interstate highway system.
Another cool physical property of nanotubes is that it has such a high thermal conductivity that if doused with gas it will ignite the gas in front the flame before the flame actually ignites it.
I would think an immediate application would be very light weight high performance electric motors for reducing the unsprung weight of wheelmotors in EV's.
@rlb2 cool link
Should be working on superconducting materials instead. This is still an energy waster like copper.
I'm surprised the most obvious application was completely ignored. Small electronics, cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.
Not only would these things benefit from the lower line losses and weight, but lower heat generation and size.
Of course nanotubes are expensive now but they seem to be getting cheaper by the month...
@rlb2 - Forgive my ignorance but how would a self propelling light emitting starship work? The closest thing I can equate this to is a fan and a sail boat. The fan will of coarse make the sails full, but the fan is attached to the boat pushing against the sail in the opposite direction of travel; getting you no where fast. Admittedly, I am not as sharp as some of the other posters here on PopSci, so please forgive me if I am missing something.
In theory I would assume that it is possible for it to work, due to light producing no resistance that we can currently measure (ie. there is no pushback) so the sail itself would always be absorbing the light/full, and the unused light would dissapate into the aether with no pull. Theoretically at least. Until it gets tested we will truly have no idea LOL.
Aldrons Last Hope it is something that makes a lot of since. The fastest thing we have right now, if it worked as planned, are solar sails SS get there thrust from the sun and that drops off the further away from the sun you get. If you take the sun along for the ride then theoretically you should be able to accelerate very close to the speed of light.
The top answer to the "Pioneer anomaly' for the reason why it is slowing down is:
"A real deceleration not accounted for in the model could result from asymmetrical thermal radiation pressure of the heat from the spacecraft (the effect cannot be from the radiation pressure of sunlight or the spacecraft's radio emissions as it is too small at this distance, and points in the wrong direction).
Possibilities include the asymmetrical radiation of heat from the RTGs (See Radioisotope rocket) or the spacecraft electronics. Even if the RTGs themselves radiate symmetrically, some of their radiation will reflect from the back of the spacecraft's dish-like main antenna, causing a recoil like sunlight striking a solar sail."
Also note the radiation from the nuclear electric generator for the self propelled light emitting Starship would be deflected off the back end as an added thrust.
RobWiki wrote - "@rlb2 - Forgive my ignorance but how would a self propelling light emitting starship work? The closest thing I can equate this to is a fan and a sail boat. The fan will of coarse make the sails full, but the fan is attached to the boat pushing against the sail in the opposite direction of travel; getting you no where fast."
rlb2 reply - Photons give off pressure. The solar sail material that the photons will get its thrust emitted from will be made as an enclosed chamber from solar sail material that is shaped more like a rocket engine than a flat solar sail. As a result of producing your own light the intensity can be hundreds of times greater per square meter than what we get from the solar radiation at earth distance from the sun.
pheonixashes this to me is much more important idea than solar sails, because we have the technology to make it work, it will get us to our nearest stars faster than anything proposed to date.
When we understand basic phenomena, we can use that knowledge to do lots of cool things.
For myself, I would hope that this new elemental change could present an opportunity to correct electrical engineering's innate errors. Ben Franklin had a 50-50 chance and got it wrong. Now + is switched with - and vice versa, so everybody has to 'think backwards' on just about everything electrical. Sure EE's are comfortable with their reversed schematics, but those of us who can actually think, can be stymied unnecessarily. I would much rather be confused by nature than to be confused by mere confusion for confusion's sake, but that's me.
Of course, demand and supply together set prices and there is no way of knowing whether carbon a nanotube like is going to cost less than copper or silver. The market will find the best use for this marvelous new conductor. Of course, when I proposed organic superconductors to the US DARPA and various US government agencies ten years ago, the airheads blew it off as impossible. Doubtless those knuckleheads have been replaced with new knuckleheads. In one ear and out the other, oh well, dumb it down, dumb it down. Getting negative and positive correct will help, or perhaps a computerized reader that will 'reverse' everything for non-professionals would be useful. There's another project for a budding EE.
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This technology will be very great and transformative for just about every industry. Unfortunately, using these in space would be a very tricky thing to pull off if you wanted to expose these nanotubes to the Space Environment. Organic materials outgas (the material literally loses mass due to the low pressures), you'd have to keep these things in a pressurized compartment on your spacecraft. A lot of engineers would be very upset if they had to suddenly add another pressurized vessel on a spacecraft.
That being said, someone could always come up with a great non-organic coating to encapsulate these things in. These nanotubes will make things great for aviation and mobile electronics for sure. It will just take a little longer before they might see action on a spacecraft.
TLDR: Organic material = bad for use in space environment
We're keeping a very close eye on nanotube technology for use on airships, and we can assure you that the research spoken about in this article has already been done before. What scientists should be doing is trying to break new ground on cost-effectiveness. The fact is, nanotubes are downright bloody expensive and the only way they've been able to make them cheaper thus far has been to cut corners. We love this technology though and we have great hopes for the future of it all.
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YEs and soon we will be able to upgrade our bones to titanium and be able to do things superman does.
The people of the world only divide into two kinds, One sort with brains who hold no religion, The other with religion and no brain.
- Abu-al-Ala al-Marri
Minnesota Wire has been making and utilizing this same technology in the marketplace for a variety of products. We are the largest extruder of lightweight translucent cable in the nation. We make this for a variety of products in the medical industry including MRI's, x-rays, and CT/CAT scans.
Nanocomp Technologies is the world's first and only commercial producer of data and electrical wires, shielding and cables comprised of nearly 100% carbon nanotubes. See the following for links on the company's development
www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-nano-report.pdf (page 34)