Our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy have changed. We think you'll like them better this way.

Episode #20: Carbon Nanotubes -- From Super Molecules and Super Computers to Super Strong Fibers

  • Broadcast in Military
Armed with Science

Armed with Science


Follow This Show

If you liked this show, you should follow Armed with Science .
Hardening Army base camps from explosions and projectiles would be much simpler if we had super materials to work with, say materials with 10 times the strength of steel or twice that of Kevlar. We’ve known for years that materials are very strong at the molecular level. The reason why this strength doesn’t exist in everyday materials is because of molecular defects and poor connections between molecules. Dr. Bob Welch discusses the work of a team of researchers at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center that are overcoming these obstacles by using the world’s strongest molecules, carbon nanotubes, and by using super computers to help design the material’s molecular bonds and arrangement. Their goal is to build sample fibers and membranes with 1-million pounds per square inch tensile strength. They recently achieved carbon nanotube fibers that have over 200,000 pounds per square inch strength, and they are working the rest of the problem.

The appearance of advertising on this Web site, does not constitute endorsement by the (Department of Defense), of the products or services advertised on this site.
Carbon Nanotube Fact Sheet
Article on Dr. Welch’s team research on carbon nanotubes
Soldiers Radio and Television video clip on Dr. Welch and carbon nanotubes
US Army Engineer Research and Development Center
Read transcript(pdf)