Super-thin and long carbon “nanothreads” could one day replace heavy and costly metal wiring in mobile phones, aircraft and other technologies, according to researchers from the University of Cincinnati.
Using existing technology for creating long nanotubes of carbon, engineers Vesselin Shanov and Mark Schulz have developed a way to spin those tubes into long threads that can replace electrical wiring. Physics professor David Mast then used a length of the 25-micron carbon nanotube thread to replace a copper radio antenna.
“It transmitted almost as well as the copper did, but at about one ten-thousandth of the weight,” Mast said.
Mast also installed a nano-antenna in his mobile phone, which then demonstrated a high level of service quality.
“Carbon thread that is a fraction of the weight of current copper conductors and antennas could directly apply and would be significant to aerospace activities — commercial, military and space,” added Shanov. “On any aircraft, there are about several hundred pounds of copper as cables and wiring.”