Tech Briefs

Coating carbon nanotubes in polymer molecules creates a new class of materials with enhanced mechanical properties for printed circuit boards, antenna arrays, and optoelectronics.

This innovation can be made compatible with matrices of other materials to facilitate fabrication of composites. Composite materials with polymer-coated SWNTs suspended in a polymer matrix have a novel structure of a suspended nanotube being smaller in its cross-sectional dimensions than the typical scale length of the individual polymer molecules in the matrix. This microscopic, dimensional compatibility minimizes the propensity of the composite to fail mechanically at the interface between the matrix and the SWNT, producing a composite material with enhanced properties such as strain-to-failure, toughness, and resistance to mechanical fatigue. These materials also serve as the active element for a range of transducers because they can change their physical dimensions in response to applied electric and magnetic fields. If treated with certain chemicals, the material can also change dimensionally and electronically in response to adsorption of chemicals on the nanotube surface, and can serve as chemical sensors and transducers.

This work was done by Richard E. Smalley and Michael J. O’Connell of Rice University and Kenneth Smith and Daniel T. Colbert of Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

William M. Rice University

Office of Technology Transfer

6100 Main Street

Houston, TX 77005

Phone No.: (713) 348-6188

Refer to MSC-24070-1, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

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