Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Carbon is the new black: Researchers use carbon nanotubes to develop clothing that can double as batteries

UC graduate student Mark Haase demonstrates the conductivity of carbon nanotube fiber in a battery-powered light.
CREDIT
Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services
UC graduate student Mark Haase demonstrates the conductivity of carbon nanotube fiber in a battery-powered light. CREDIT Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services

Abstract:
Engineers with the University of Cincinnati are leveraging a partnership with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to create clothing that can charge your cell phone.

Carbon is the new black: Researchers use carbon nanotubes to develop clothing that can double as batteries

Cincinnati, OH | Posted on July 10th, 2018

Move over, Iron Man.

What makes this possible are the unique properties of carbon nanotubes: a large surface area that is strong, conductive and heat-resistant.

UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science has a five-year agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct research that can enhance military technology applications.

UC professor Vesselin Shanov co-directs UC's Nanoworld Laboratories with research partner and UC professor Mark Schulz. Together, they harness their expertise in electrical, chemical and mechanical engineering to craft "smart" materials that can power electronics.

"The major challenge is translating these beautiful properties to take advantage of their strength, conductivity and heat resistance," Shanov said.

Schulz said manufacturing is at the cusp of a carbon renaissance. Carbon nanotubes will replace copper wire in cars and planes to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency. Carbon will filter our water and tell us more about our lives and bodies through new biometric sensors.

Carbon will replace polyester and other synthetic fibers. And since carbon nanotubes are the blackest objects found on Earth, absorbing 99.9 percent of all visible light, you might say carbon is the new black.

"In the past, metals dominated manufacturing goods," Schulz said. "But I think carbon is going to replace metals in a lot of applications.

"There's going to be a new carbon era -- a carbon revolution," Schulz said.

UC's Nanoworld Lab directs the collective work of 30 graduate and undergraduate students.

One of them, UC research associate Sathya Narayan Kanakaraj, co-authored a study examining ways to improve the tensile strength of dry-spun carbon nanotube fiber. His results were published in June in the journal Materials Research Success.

Graduate student Mark Haase, spent the past year exploring applications for carbon nanotubes at the Air Force Research Lab of Wright-Patterson. Through the partnership, UC students use the Air Force Lab's sophisticated equipment, including X-ray computer tomography, to analyze samples. Haase has been using the Air Force equipment to help his classmates with their projects as well.

"This pushes us to work in groups and to specialize. These are the same dynamics we see in corporate research and industry," Haase said. "Engineering is a group activity these days so we can take advantage of that."

UC researchers "grow" nanotubes on quarter-sized silicon wafers under heat in a vacuum chamber through a process called chemical vapor deposition.

"Each particle has a nucleation point. Colloquially, we can call it a seed," Haase said.

"Our carbon-containing gas is introduced into the reactor. When the carbon gas interacts with our 'seed,' it breaks down and re-forms on the surface. We let it grow until it reaches the size we want," he said.

Researchers can use almost any carbon, from alcohol to methane.

"I remember one group showed off by using Girl Scout cookies. If it contains carbon, you can turn it into a nanotube," Haase said.

UC's Nanoworld Lab set a world record in 2007 by growing a nanotube that stretched nearly 2 centimeters, the longest carbon nanotube array produced in a lab at the time. Today's labs can create nanotubes that are many times longer.

UC researchers stretch the little fibrous square over an industrial spool in the lab. Suddenly, this tiny sheet of carbon becomes a spun thread that resembles spider's silk that can be woven into textiles.

"It's exactly like a textile," Shanov said. "We can assemble them like a machine thread and use them in applications ranging from sensors to track heavy metals in water or energy storage devices, including super capacitors and batteries."

For the military, this could mean replacing heavy batteries that charge the growing number of electronics that make up a soldier's loadout: lights, night-vision and communications gear.

"As much as one-third of the weight they carry is just batteries to power all of their equipment," Haase said. "So even if we can shave a little off that, it's a big advantage for them in the field."

Medical researchers are investigating how carbon nanotubes can help deliver targeted doses of medicine.

"On the outside, you can add a protein molecule. Cells will read that and say, 'I want to eat that.' So we can deliver medicine to support healthy cells, to restore sick cells or even to kill cancer cells," Haase said.

But first researchers want to make sure that carbon nanotubes are nontoxic.

"That's why they've been moving slowly," Haase said. "Research has found that in high or acute exposure, carbon nanotubes can cause lung damage similar to asbestos. The last thing we want to do is cure one cancer only to find it gives you a different one."

Preliminary results have been promising.

Don't look for carbon nanotube fashions on Parisian catwalks anytime soon. The costs are too prohibitive.

"We're working with clients who care more about performance than cost. But once we perfect synthesis, scale goes up considerably and costs should drop accordingly," Haase said. "Then we'll see carbon nanotubes spread to many, many more applications."

For now, UC's lab can produce about 50 yards of carbon nanotube thread at a time for its research.

"Most large-scale textile machines need miles of thread," Haase said. "We'll get there."

Until then, mass production remains one of the bigger unresolved problems for carbon nanotube technology, said Benji Maruyama, who leads the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory. "There is still a lot of work to be done in scaling up the process. Pulling a carbon nanotube fiber off a silicon disk is good for lab-scale research but not for making an airplane wing or flight suit," Maruyama said.

"The only thing holding us back is cracking the code on making carbon nanotubes at scale," he said.

Maruyama is trying to solve that problem with a series of experiments he is conducting using an autonomous research robot called ARES. The robot designs and conducts experiments with carbon nanotubes, analyzes the results and then uses that data and artificial intelligence to redefine parameters for the next experiment. In this way, it can conduct 100 times as many experiments in the same time as human researchers, he said.

"The big advantage of carbon nanotubes is there's no shortage of materials. It just requires a metal catalyst -- we use iron and nickel -- and carbon. It's not scarce," Maruyama said. "So when we're talking about making millions of tons per year of carbon nanotubes, we're not making millions of tons of something rare."

The ultimate goal is to convert UC's academic research into solutions to real problems, Shanov said.

"We have the luxury in academia to explore different applications," Shanov said. "Not all of them may see the market. But even if 10 percent hit, it would be a great success."

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Michael Miller

513-556-6757

Copyright © University of Cincinnati

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

RELATED JOURNAL ARTICLE:

Related News Press

News and information

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

New method to reduce uranium concentration in contaminated water March 18th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Laboratories

Researchers reverse the flow of time on IBM's quantum computer March 14th, 2019

Avoiding the Crack of Doom: New imaging technique reveals how mechanical damage begins at the molecular scale February 25th, 2019

A quantum magnet with a topological twist: Materials with a kagome lattice pattern exhibit 'negative magnetism' and long-sought 'flat-band' electrons February 23rd, 2019

Helping smartphones hold their charge longer February 6th, 2019

Platinum forms nano-bubbles: Technologically important noble metal oxidises more readily than expected January 28th, 2019

Wearable electronics

Laser-induced graphene gets tough, with help: Rice University lab combines conductive foam with other materials for capable new composites February 12th, 2019

Eco-friendly waterproof polymer films synthesized using novel method October 31st, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Researchers reverse the flow of time on IBM's quantum computer March 14th, 2019

When semiconductors stick together, materials go quantum: A new study led by Berkeley Lab reveals how aligned layers of atomically thin semiconductors can yield an exotic new quantum material March 12th, 2019

Possible Futures

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

New method to reduce uranium concentration in contaminated water March 18th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Now made in Japan – Asian battery manufacturers welcome highly conductive nanotube additive March 7th, 2019

Straightforward biosynthesis of functional bulk nanocomposites February 5th, 2019

Drilling speed increased by 20% – yet another upgrade in the oil & gas sector made possible by graphene nanotubes January 15th, 2019

Chemical synthesis of nanotubes: Nanometer-sized tubes made from simple benzene molecules January 11th, 2019

Discoveries

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

New method to reduce uranium concentration in contaminated water March 18th, 2019

Review of the recent advances of 2D nanomaterials in Lit-ion batteries March 15th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Materials/Metamaterials

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Now made in Japan – Asian battery manufacturers welcome highly conductive nanotube additive March 7th, 2019

Can a flowing liquid-like material maintain its structural order like crystals? February 27th, 2019

Super-light, super-insulating ceramic aerogel keeps the hottest temperatures at bay February 17th, 2019

Announcements

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

New method to reduce uranium concentration in contaminated water March 18th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

New method to reduce uranium concentration in contaminated water March 18th, 2019

Review of the recent advances of 2D nanomaterials in Lit-ion batteries March 15th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Military

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Quantum sensing method measures minuscule magnetic fields: MIT researchers find a new way to make nanoscale measurements of fields in more than one dimension March 15th, 2019

Lightweight metal foams become bone hard and explosion proof after being nanocoated March 14th, 2019

Textiles/Clothing

The materials engineers are developing environmentally friendly materials: The materials engineers are developing environmentally friendly materials for producing smart textiles November 2nd, 2018

A bullet-proof heating pad November 2nd, 2018

Eco-friendly waterproof polymer films synthesized using novel method October 31st, 2018

Unraveling the mystery of how black widow spiders create steel-strength silk webs: ‘Modified micelle theory’ may allow scientists to create equally strong synthetic materials October 23rd, 2018

Industrial

Defects help nanomaterial soak up more pollutant in less time: Rice U. researchers find new way to remove PFOS from industrial wastewater March 13th, 2019

Zips on the nanoscale: New method of synthesising nanographene on metal oxide surfaces March 5th, 2019

Picosun’s ALD encapsulation prevents electronics degradation February 15th, 2019

Rice U. lab adds porous envelope to aluminum plasmonics: Scientists marry gas-trapping framework to light-powered nanocatalysts February 10th, 2019

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Review of the recent advances of 2D nanomaterials in Lit-ion batteries March 15th, 2019

Now made in Japan – Asian battery manufacturers welcome highly conductive nanotube additive March 7th, 2019

New blueprint for understanding, predicting and optimizing complex nanoparticles: Guidelines have the potential to transform the fields of optoelectronics, bio-imaging and energy harvesting March 1st, 2019

Researchers create ultra-lightweight ceramic material that withstands extreme temperatures: UCLA-led team develops highly durable aerogel that could ultimately be an upgrade for insulation on spacecraft February 15th, 2019

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project