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NASA Spinoff Brings Nanotechnology to Market

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, licensed its patented technique for manufacturing high-quality, single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to Idaho Space Materials (ISM) in Boise. Carbon nanotubes based on this process are being used by researchers and companies working on the next generation of composite polymers, metals, and ceramics that will impact almost every facet of life.

Goddard researcher Dr. Jeannette Benavides developed a simple, safe, and less costly manufacturing process for single-walled CNTs that produces bundles of CNTs without using a metal catalyst, dramatically reducing pre- and post-production costs while generating higher yields of better quality product. This capability was of particular interest to Wayne Whitt, who founded ISM.

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Dr. Jeannette Benavides prepares to run her simple, safe, and inexpensive manufacturing process for single-walled carbon nanotubes. (NASA Goddard’s Innovative Partnerships Program Office)
Having successfully commercialized NASA’s manufacturing process to increase production capacity while maintaining quality, ISM can produce single-walled CNTs at a rate of 50 grams per hour. These CNTs can then be used in a wide range of applications, including medical devices, fuel cells, video displays, and solar cells.

“Getting single-walled CNTs into the hands of researchers will help accelerate their transition from a conceptual idea to a practical product, and that’s why we offer our product at a reduced price for researchers,” said ISM vice president Roger Smith.

For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/ topstory/2006/nanotechnology.html.