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Carbon Nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes— a girl’s best friend?. The diamond has long been considered the hardest mineral on earth until now!. Enlarged Nanotubes. Diamond. cc by Gregory Phillips. Photo by NREL. What on earth are carbon nanotubes?.

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carbon nanotubes a girl s best friend

Carbon nanotubes—a girl’s best friend?

The diamond has long been considered the hardest mineral on earth until now!




cc by Gregory Phillips

Photo by NREL


What on earth are carbon nanotubes?

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are carbon structures with special properties that make them useful in a wide range of scientific and everyday applications.

cc by Michael Ströck


There are four distinct forms of carbon:



cc by Guillaume Paumier

cc by Sauperad



cc by Gregory Phillips

cc by Eurico Zimbres


Each form of carbon has its own unique properties determined by the arrangement of atoms within it.

CNTs exist in three different forms. Even though the differences are very small, they cause each one to have its own unique properties.




Images cc by Michael Ströck


Carbon nanotubes are different from other natural materials. The CNT’s incredibly small size and distinct properties allow it to do things other materials cannot do.

These special properties include increased electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and tensile strength.


CNTs are extremely strong. A one-inch thick rope made of CNTs is 100 times stronger and 1/6 the weight of steel. Can you imagine a building built with ropes instead of steel or an elephant on a platform supported by CNT ropes?

cc by Follix


The special properties of these tiny structures make CNTs useful for several current and future applications in the electronics field.

Photo by Mike 1024


The possible uses for carbon nanotubes are still being explored. Some of the earliest and most successful uses have been in electronics.

Take a look at the chart on the next slide to see additional possibilities.


Practical Use or Science Fiction?

Source: Understanding Nanotechnology


Practical Use or Science Fiction?

Source: Understanding Nanotechnology


Build a Balloon Nanotube Model

Image by HighPoint Learning


This module is one of a series designed to introduce faculty and high school students to the basic concepts of nanotechnology. Each module includes a PowerPoint presentation, discussion questions, and hands-on activities, when applicable.The series was funded in part by:The National Science FoundationGrant DUE-0702976and the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Education InitiativeAny opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Education Initiative.


Image CreditsCdang. (Photographer). Gunt WP300 tensile testing machine, for educational purpose. [Digital Image]. France. Wikimedia Commons ( Jordan, Chuck (Photographer). Apple TV and Sony flatscreen TV on display at Macworld San Francisco 2007. [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons ( (Photographer). 28 pin MLP integrated circuit [Digital Image]. Wikimedia Commons ( Renewable Energy Laboratory (Photographer), Carbon Nanotubes.jpg [Digital Image], United States, Wikimedia Commons ( Paumier, Guillaume (Designer) Carbon Nanotube.svg [Digital Image], France, Wikimedia Commons (, Gregory (Photographer), CZ_Brilliant.jpg [Digital Image], Canada, Wikimedia Commons ( Saperaud (Designer) Fullerene-C60.png [Digital Image], Germany, Wikimedia Commons (


Image CreditsSüssbrich, Rolf (Photographer). Small Transistor Metal 1.jpg. [Digital Image]. Wikimedia Commons (öck, Michael (Designer) Types of Carbon Nanotubes.jpg [Digital Image], Austria, Wikimedia Commons (, Eurico (Photographer), GrafitaEZ.jpg [Digital Image], Brazil, Wikimedia Commons (


ReferencesScientific American Editors. Understanding Nanotechnology (2002). [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from, Joe. Science Happens (2009). [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from, Linda and Dr. Wade Adams. (2007). Nanotechnology Demystified. [Kindle Version] doi: 10.1036/0071460233 Wilson, Michael, Kanangara, Kamali, Smith, Geoff, Simmons, Michelle, & Raguse, Burkhard. Nanotechnology: Basic Science and Emerging Technologies. (2004). [Kindle Edition] Retrieved from