Carbon nanotubeOn May 8, researchers from JFE Holdings, Inc. and Shinshu University announced the discovery of a new type of carbon nanotube (CNT) -- a polygonal tube shaped in a spiral configuration. Cross-sections of what are normally round tubes showed a structure with at least six sides.

This special structure appeared in CNTs that were synthesized using JFE's production method. The researchers speculate that the polygonal tube spirals arise because the production method’s high temperatures (over 3000 degrees Celsius) lead to high crystallinity, and the rapid cooling causes distortion in the crystal structure.

Using an arc discharge method of production, the company has succeeded in synthesizing 100-micrometer (1 micrometer = 1 millionth of a meter) thick CNT tape comprised of tubes with a purity of nearly 100%. This tape, according to the researchers, is the world’s first of its kind.

When the researchers analyzed the new CNT structure, they found that electron emission was at least several times better than conventional cylindrical CNTs, and they discovered that its strength as a material was at least dozens of times greater.

The company has begun test marketing the polygonal nanotubes, which they call nanocores, for applications in electronics and composite materials. Carbon nanotube tape can be used for such products as field emission displays, next-generation flat-panel displays, fuel cells and semiconductor parts.

[Source: Fuji Sankei]