A paper, “The extraordinary reinforcing efficiency of single-walled carbon nanotubes in oriented poly(vinyl alcohol) tapes” recently published has this exciting abstract:
“This paper reports on oriented poly(vinyl alcohol)/single-walled carbon nanotube (PVA/SWNT) tapes that were prepared by a mild processing route, involving the use of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a solvent. Composite films with homogeneously dispersed SWNTs were cast from solution and drawn into oriented tapes using solid-state drawing. The obtained tapes showed the extraordinary reinforcing effects of the SWNTs, as the addition of 1.0 wt% SWNTs tripled the tensile strength of the PVA tapes. Micromechanical analysis showed that the nanotube contribution to the composite strength was as high as 88 GPa, which is very high when compared to other data reported in the literature, and for the first time begins to exploit the theoretical strength of nanotubes.”
The exciting, operative number, of course is “88 GPa”. Now I know that this doesn’t mean that they’ve created a structure which has a tensile strength of “88 GPa”, but it does show how carbon nanotube developments are proceeding at an ever increasing pace.
You can get the full paper, but you either have to be a member of IOP or pony up $30.00 as a guest to read it.
An article on netcomposites.com talks about this development. However, I’m not sure where they get the statement; “The work shows for the first time the true reinforcing potential of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) with effective properties of nanotubes in composites, which are close to their theoretical values.” The theoretical limit of carbon nanotubes is, I believe, ~300GPa, not the 88 GPa discussed in the article. But never mind all that – this is still a very exciting development.
(Hat tip to reader Yakov for pointing out this development)