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December 7th, 2010
Sixty atoms, in a geodesic dome
Carbon nanotubes, the discovery of which has been traced to a seminal 1991 paper authored by Sumio lijima of Japan's NEC Corporation, are today the most attractive and exciting face of nanotechnology.
Carbon nanotubes contribute to the radical advances in the areas of electronics, energy, medicine and materials. Indeed, a range of exciting applications proposed for high-strength carbon nanotubes include high performance composites, energy storage and energy conversion devices, sensors, field emission displays and radiation sources, hydrogen storage systems as well nanometre-sized semiconductor devices and probes. Known for their phenomenal tensile strength, carbon nanotubes can act as a conductor or a semiconductor depending upon the arrangement of carbon atoms. Researchers have now devised simpler and easier techniques to engineer carbon nanotubes by triggering an electric arc between two graphite electrodes or passing hydrocarbon gas over a metal catalyst.
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