Nanowires to Replace Metal Cables
Conductive carbon nanotube cables, developed by Rice University.
The increasing cost of metals, coupled with the energy required to transport them, has inspired researchers to find alternatives in areas such as wiring. With this goal in mind, Rice University researchers have developed cables made of double-walled carbon nanotubes that can transport electricity just as efficiently as standard metal cables at one-sixth the weight. The scientists predict that these cables will replace metal-based equivalents in cases where weight is a critical factor—such as in airplanes and cars. Eventually, standard wiring in buildings may be made of carbon nanotubes.
According to researcher Yao Zhao, the new cables show no signs of degradation under thorough testing, and perform well under a wide range of temperatures. "We really want to go better than what copper or other metals can offer overall," says Enrique Barrera, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Rice.