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Name: Steven
Status: educator
Grade: 9-12
Country: South Africa
Date: Spring 2012


Question:
Is it possible to weave carbon nanotubes? If possible then perhaps its performance under compression would improve.



Replies:
Hi Steven,

While it may be possible to "weave" individual carbon nanotubes, although technically difficult, it would do nothing to improve their relatively poor strength under compression.

Like any long slender body, carbon nanotubes undergo buckling under compression. This has nothing to do with the material itself, and everything to do with their extreme length-to-thickness ratio.

String, rope and steel cables suffer exactly the same buckling problem under compression, and no amount of weaving them together will result in a substantial solution to the fact that (as the saying goes) "you cannot push on a rope".

Regards, Bob Wilson


"is it possible" is different than "is it practical"... yes, possible, but no, not practical (compared with traditional carbon fiber). Also, CNTs are normally used in some other material (a composite). The composite properties are governed by more than just the form of the CNTs. Last, fibers are used for tensile properties. If you want other properties, you would use something other than a fiber.

Hope this helps, Burr Zimmerman


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