Microsystem Technologies

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 175–180 | Cite as

Macroscopic invisible cables

  • Nicola M. PugnoEmail author
Technical Paper


Spiders suggest to us that producing high strength over density ratio invisible cables could be of great importance. In this paper we show that such invisible cables could in principle be built, thanks to carbon nanotube bundles. Theoretical strength of ~10 MPa, Young’s modulus of ~0.1 GPa and density of ~0.1 Kg/m3 are estimated. The theoretical strength over density ratio is huge, i.e. that of a single carbon nanotube; the strength of a real, thus defective, invisible cable is estimated to be ~1 MPa. Finally, we demonstrate that such cables can be easily transported in their visible state (with bunched nanotubes) and that an efficient anti-bunching controllable mechanism, involving pressure of ~1 Pa, can control the visible–invisible transition, and vice versa.


Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanic Elliptical Hole Visible Transition Theoretical Strength Nominal Strength 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



N.P. is supported by the ‘‘Bando Ricerca Scientifica Piemonte 2006’’—BIADS: novel biomaterials for intraoperative adjustable devices for fine tuning of prostheses shape and performance in surgery.


  1. Bethune DS, Kiang CH, de Vries MS, Gorman G, Savoy R, Vazquez J, Beyers R (1993) Cobalt-catalysed growth of carbon nanotubes with single-atomic-layer walls. Nature 363:605–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Buongiorno Nardelli M, Yakobson BI, Bernholc J (1998) Mechanism of strain release in carbon nanotubes. Phys Rev B 57:R4277–R4280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carpinteri A, Pugno N (2005) Are the scaling laws on strength of solids related to mechanics or to geometry? Nat Mater 4:421–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Glassmaker NJ, Jagota A, Hui CY, Kim J (2004) Design of biomimetic fibrillar interfaces: 1. Making contact. J R Soc Interface 1:23–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hui CY, Lin YY, Baney JM, Jagota A (2000) The accuracy of the geometric assumptions in the JKR (Johnson–Kendall–Roberts) theory of adhesion. J Adhes Sci Technol 14:1297–1319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Iijima S (1991) Helical microtubules of graphitic carbon. Nature 354:56–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Iijima S, Ichihashi T (1993) Single-shell carbon nanotubes of 1-nm diameter. Nature 363:603–605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kaplan-Ashiri I, Cohen SR, Gartsman K, Ivanovskaya V, Heine T, Seifert G, Wiesel I, Wagner HD, Tenne R (2006) On the mechanical behavior of WS2 nanotubes under axial tension and compression. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:523–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ke CH, Pugno N, Peng B, Espinosa HD (2005) Experiments and modeling of carbon nanotube NEMS devices. J Mech Phys Solids 53:1314–1333zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lu JP (1997) Elastic properties of carbon nanotubes and nanoropes. Phys Rev Lett 79:1297–1300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mielke SL, Troya D, Zhang S, Li J-L, Xiao S, Car R, Ruoff RS, Schatz GC, Belytschko T (2004) The role of vacancy defects and holes in the fracture of carbon nanotubes. Chem Phys Lett 390:413–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Odom TW, Huang J-L, Kim P, Lieber CM (1998) Atomic structure and electronic properties of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Nature 391:62–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pugno N (2004) Recent research developments in sound and vibrations. Transw Res Netw 2:197–211Google Scholar
  14. Pugno N (2006a) New quantized failure criteria: application to nanotubes and nanowires. Int J Fract 141:311–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pugno N (2006b) Dynamic quantized fracture mechanics. Int J Fract 140:159–168zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pugno N (2007a) A journey on the nanotube, in the “Top ten advances in materials”. Mater Today 11:40–45Google Scholar
  17. Pugno N (2007b) Towards a Spiderman suit: large invisible cables and self-cleaning releasable super-adhesive materials. J Phys Cond Mat 19:395001 (pp 17)Google Scholar
  18. Pugno N (2007c) The role of defects in the design of the space elevator cable: from nanotube to megatube. Acta Mater 55:5269–5279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pugno N, Ruoff R (2004) Quantized fracture mechanics. Phil Mag 84:2829–2845CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pugno N, Ke CH, Espinosa H (2005) Analysis of doubly clamped nanotube devices in the finite deformation regime. J Appl Mech 72:445–449zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tang T, Jagota A, Hui CY (2005) Adhesion between single-walled carbon nanotubes. J Appl Phys 97:074304/1–6Google Scholar
  22. Tans SJ, Devoret MH, Dai H, Thess A, Smalley RE, Georliga LJ, Dekker C (1997) Individual single-wall carbon nanotubes as quantum wires. Nature 386:474–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tans SJ, Verschueren ARM, Dekker C (1998) Room-temperature transistor based on a single carbon nanotube. Nature 393:49–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Yakobson BI (1997) In: Ruoff RS, Kadish KM (eds) recent advances in the chemistry and physics of fullerences and related materials, electrochemical society, (Electrochemical Society, Inc., Pennington, NJ), vol 5 (97–42), p 549Google Scholar
  25. Yakobson BI (1998) Mechanical relaxation, “intramolecular plasticity” in carbon nanotubes. Appl Phys Lett 72:918–920CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Yao H, Gao H (2006) Mechanics of robust and releasable adhesion in biology: Bottom–up designed hierarchical structures of gecko. J Mech Phys Solids 54:1120–1146zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Yu M-F, Lourie O, Dyer MJ, Moloni K, Kelly TF, Ruoff RS (2000a) Strength and breaking mechanism of multiwalled carbon nanotubes under tensile load. Science 287:637–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Yu M-F, Files BS, Arepalli S, Ruoff RS (2000b) Tensile loading of ropes of single wall carbon nanotubes and their mechanical properties. Phys Rev Lett 84:5552–5555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zhang M, Fang S, Zakhidov AA, Lee SB, Aliev AE, Williams CD, Atkinson KR, Baughman RH (2005) Strong, transparent, multifunctional, carbon nanotube sheets. Science 309:1215–1219CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Structural EngineeringPolitecnico di TorinoTurinItaly

Personalised recommendations