A technology that was developed over 20 years ago in an experiment while trying to create the same conditions in a star is just now beginning to show some light in commercial production. That technology is called “buckypaper” and it could revolutionize everything from airplanes to TV’s.
Buckypaper is made of tube-shaped carbon molecules that are 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, but has the potential to be 500 times stronger than steel. On top of being extremely strong, it conducts electricity very effectively. Because of this, it can dissipate something like a jolt of lightning with no problem, making it useful for airplane applications.
Right now buckypaper can only be made at a fraction of its potential strength, in small quantities, and at a high price. Researchers at Florida State University are working on manufacturing techniques that will increase the strength, increase the quantities, and lower the price.
Some of the upcoming applications possibilities have a lot of potential:
- As mentioned earlier, airplanes would use this material to conduct lighting and disperse heat. Airplanes will eventually made from carbon fiber because of its lightweight and strength, but unfortunately it does not conduct electricity. Buckypaper can be used in conjunction to protect the place.
- It can be used for electromagnetic shielding where various things can cause interference with electronic gear.
- It can be used as electrodes for fuel cells, super capacitors and batteries.
- It can be used for more efficient and lighter replacement for graphite sheets used in laptop computers to dissipate heat.
- The military is looking at using it for armor plating and stealth technology.
- Eventually it can hopefully be used to build vehicles like planes and cars.
This sounds like an exciting technology which we’ll definitely be following.