Carbon nanotubes, not to be confused with carbon fibre,  are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Nanotubes have been constructed with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1, significantly larger than any other material. These cylindrical carbon molecules have novel properties, making them potentially useful in many applications in nanotechnology, electronics, optics, and other fields of materials science, as well as potential uses in architectural fields. They may also have applications in the construction of body armor. They exhibit -extraordinary strength and unique electrical properties, and are efficient thermal conductors.

Nanotubes are members of the fullerene structural family, which also includes the spherical buckyballs. The ends of a nanotube may be capped with a hemisphere of the buckyball structure. Their name is derived from their size, since the diameter of a nanotube is on the order of a few nanometers (approximately 1/50,000th of the width of a human hair), while they can be up to 18 centimeters in length (as of 2010). Nanotubes are categorized as single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs) and multi-walled nanotubes(MWNTs).

Applied quantum chemistry, specifically, orbital hybridization best describes chemical bonding in nanotubes. The chemical bonding of nanotubes is composed entirely of sp2 bonds, similar to those of graphite. These bonds, which are stronger than the sp3 bonds found in alkanes, provide nanotubules with their unique strength. Moreover, nanotubes naturally align themselves into “ropes” held together by vander Waals forces


Most single-walled nanotubes (SWNT) have a diameter of close to 1 nanometer, with a tube length that can be many millions of times longer. The structure of a SWNT can be conceptualized by wrapping a one-atom-thick layer of graphite called graphene into a seamless cylinder.


Multi-walled nanotubes (MWNT) consist of multiple rolled layers (concentric tubes) of graphite. There are two models which can be used to describe the structures of multi-walled nanotubes. In the Russian Doll model, sheets of graphite are arranged in concentric cylinders, e.g. a (0,8) single-walled nanotube (SWNT) within a larger (0,17) single-walled nanotube. In the Parchment model, a single sheet of graphite is rolled in around itself, resembling a scroll of parchment or a rolled.


Strength :::

Carbon nanotubes are the strongest and stiffest materials yet discovered in terms of tensile strength and elastic modulus respectively. This strength results from the covalent sp² bonds formed between the individual carbon atoms

Hardness :::

Standard single walled carbon nanotubes can withstand a pressure up to 24GPa without deformation. They then under go a transformation to superhard phase nanotubes. Maximum pressures measured using current experimental techniques are arround 55GPa. However, these new superhard phase nanotubes collapse at an even higher, albiet unknown, pressure.

The bulk modulus of superhard phase nanotubes is 462 to 546 GPa, even higher than that of diamond.

Electrical :::

Because of the symmetry and unique electronic structure of graphene, the structure of a nanotube strongly affects its electrical properties. For a given (n,m) nanotube, if nm, the nanotube is metallic; if n − m is a multiple of 3, then the nanotube is semiconducting with a very small band gap, otherwise the nanotube is a moderate semiconductor

Thermal :::

All nanotubes are expected to be very good thermal conductors along the tube, exhibiting a property known as “ballistic conduction“, but good insulators laterally to the tube axis. Measurements show that a SWNT has a room-temperature thermal conductivity along its axis of about 3500 W·m−1·K−1; compare this to copper, a metal well-known for its good thermal conductivity, which transmits 385 W·m−1·K−1. A SWNT has a room-temperature thermal conductivity across its axis (in the radial direction) of about 1.52 W·m−1·K−1, which is about as thermally conductive as soil. The temperature stability of carbon nanotubes is estimated to be up to 2800 °C in vacuum and about 750 °C in air.

Posted By

P.Aditya(2/4  ECE)  MGIT

Courtesy : www.

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