Article in Chemical and Engineering News (distributed by The American
Issue January 11, 1999
"Much Ado About Nanotubes"
Collective peices of the article as posted by Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
The concept of a "space elevator"-a cable that would tether a geostationary satellite to earth and allow payloads to be raised to space without the use of rockets, was polarized two decades ago in two science-fiction novels written independently by Arthur C. Clarke and Charles Sheffield. In "The Fountains of Paradise," for example, Clarke envisioned the cable as a diamond-like fiber strong enough to support its more than 22,000-mile length.
In the past decade, a potential canidate material for this cable has emerged: carbon nanotubes. Indeed, at the Materials Research Society (MRS) meeting in Boston early last month, chemist Daniel T. Colbert of Rice University, Houston, stated that nanotubes look like they may be stong enough to serve as an elevator in space. Colbert, who does research in the department of chemistry and the Center for Nanoscale Science & Technology, prefaced this remark by noting that a rope, or parallel bundle, of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT's) should be the strongest fiber ever made-perhaps the strongest that can ever be made.
At a special evening plenary sessions that attracted a overflow audience, Smalley marveled at the physical properties of single-walled "buckytubes", which are being intensively studied around the world. In addition to being the strongest known fibers, he noted, SWNT's also promise to rival copper in electrical conductivity and diamond in thermal conductivity.
Smalley, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert F. Curl. Jr. and Harold W. Kroto for the discovery and characterization of buckministerfullerene (C 60), focused his talk, appropriately enough, on the big picture, discussing how buckytubes may help meet the challenges of the next century. At the outset, he urged his listeners, in seemingly contradictory fashion, to "think nano, think big." He was referring to the dream of constructing microscope objects with nanoscopic precision. Revolutionary new nanotechnology involving carbon based materials and devices will be crucial to meet the challenge of a burgeoning population, he said. This new technology will be necessary to make the lives of more than 6 billion people on Earth healthy and fulfilling.
+++++(There's a lot more interesting information in the article between here and the end, - to much for me to type- but it ends as:) +++++
One strategy that Smalley and his co-workers are pursuing in their goal of economically producing bulk quantities of nanotubes is to his small, cut tubes as "seeds" from which to catalytically grow longer tubes. By selecting seeds with a specific diameter and helicity, for example, one presumably could grow nanotubes with the same structural features, and therefore the same properties. Another advantage of this approach, he said, is that the seeds could be oriented to produce aligned nanotube arrays. This might allow the tubes to be grown continuously to produce a 1-cm-wide "buckycable."
Smalley and coworkers so far have made limited progress in developing this seed approach. But if they can solve the problems he believes it could become the basis of industrial process for making molecularly perfect SWNTs in multiton quanities. Nanotubes would then be cost efficient enough for use in large-scale applications, he predicted. Perhaps, one day, even for an elevator into space.
++++Gina "Nanogirl" Miller+++++
>Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 15:55:06 -0500
>From: Matthew Gaylor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Nanotechnology: The "Sugar Cube" That Remembers...
>Excerpted via... The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing Jan. 11, 1999
>Jeffrey R. Harrow Senior Consulting Engineer, Corporate Research,
>Compaq Computer Corporation, email@example.com Insight, analysis
>commentary on the innovations and trends of contemporary computing, and
>the technologies that drive them (not necessarily the views of Compaq
>Copyright (c)1999, Compaq Computer Corporation
>The "Sugar Cube" That Remembers...
> Last issue we talked about how nanotechnology may, eventually,
> enable us to store "...a hundred billion billion bytes in a volume
> the size of a sugar cube"
> But of course that's off in the far future. So how about a mere "100
> trillion bits of data in a cubic centimeter of space?"
> Brought to our attention by RCFoC reader Alan Maltzman from the Dec.
> 15 Nikkei English News, it seems that Japan Science and Technology
> Corp. and Kyoto University's Hirao Active Glass Project is pursuing
> an optical storage device that will use femtosecond lasers (pulsing
> a thousand-trillion times each second) to store a hundred terabits
> of data in that tiny volume.
> They begin with today's optical storage technique of using a laser
> to burn pits in a surface. But they combine this with the laser's
> ability to alter the state of a rare earth element called
> "samarium," mixed into this glass storage medium, in a special way.
> Rather than burning a simple "on or off" pit, the samarium can be
> altered to only "burn out" certain "colors" from each spot, thereby
> allowing each spot to take on one of many different values (rather
> than only a 1 or 0).
> This is only "basic research" at this time. But it is a good
> reminder that it may not take the seemingly far-out technology
> breakthroughs of nanotechnology to make potentially vast differences
> in how we compute -- shorter-term innovation might allow us to store
> a year of Digital TV content in a glass sugar cube. Just don't drop
> it in your cup of coffee...
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