Carbon Nanotubes

Volume 111 of the series Topics in Applied Physics pp 13-62

Potential Applications of Carbon Nanotubes

  • Morinobu EndoAffiliated withDepartment of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Shinshu University Email author 
  • , Michael S. StranoAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • , Pulickel M. AjayanAffiliated withDepartment of Materials Science and Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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This review explores the state-of-the-art applications of various kindsof carbon nanotubes. We will address the uniqueness of nanotubes thatmakes them better than their competitors for specific applications. We willdiscuss several examples of the already existing commercial uses of nanotubesand then point out feasible nanotube applications for the near term (withinten years) and the long term (beyond ten years). In our discussions of theapplications, we will distinguish between the various kinds of nanotubesin play today, ranging from multiwall nanotubes having different degreesof perfection to the near-perfect molecular single-wall nanotubes. The lastdecade of research in this field points to several possible applications forthese materials; electronic devices and interconnects, field emission devices,electrochemical devices, such as supercapacitors and batteries, nanoscale sensors,electromechanical actuators, separation membranes, filled polymer composites,and drug-delivery systems are some of the possible applications that havebeen demonstrated in the laboratories. We further discuss the status of thisfield and point out the value-added applications that exist today versus therevolutionary applications that will ensue in the distant future. The opportunities,challenges and the major bottlenecks, including large-scale manufacturing fornanotube material, will be identified as we define the applications space fornanotubes. We will also consider some of the recent concerns regarding health,environment as well as handling and safety protocols for carbon nanotubes.