Introduction to Carbon Nanotubes

  • Marc Monthioux
  • Philippe Serp
  • Emmanuel Flahaut
  • Manitra Razafinimanana
  • Christophe Laurent
  • Alain Peigney
  • Wolfgang Bacsa
  • Jean-Marc Broto
Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SHB)


Carbon nanotubes are remarkable objects that look set to revolutionize the technological landscape in the near future. Tomorrowʼs society will be shaped by nanotube applications, just as silicon-based technologies dominate society today. Space elevators tethered by the strongest of cables; hydrogen-powered vehicles; artificial muscles: these are just a few of the technological marvels that may be made possible by the emerging science of carbon nanotubes.

Of course, this prediction is still some way from becoming reality; we are still at the stage of evaluating possibilities and potential. Consider the recent example of fullerenes – molecules closely related to nanotubes. The anticipation surrounding these molecules, first reported in 1985, resulted in the bestowment of a Nobel Prize for their discovery in 1996. However, a decade later, few applications of fullerenes have reached the market, suggesting that similarly enthusiastic predictions about nanotubes should be approached with caution.

There is no denying, however, that the expectations surrounding carbon nanotubes are very high. One of the main reasons for this is the anticipated application of nanotubes to electronics. Many believe that current techniques for miniaturizing microchips are about to reach their lowest limits, and that nanotube-based technologies are the best hope for further miniaturization. Carbon nanotubes may therefore provide the building blocks for further technological progress, enhancing our standards of living.

In this chapter, we first describe the structures, syntheses, growth mechanisms and properties of carbon nanotubes. Then we discuss nanotube-related nano-objects, including those formed by reactions and associations of all-carbon nanotubes with foreign atoms, molecules and compounds, which may provide the path to hybrid materials with even better properties than pristine nanotubes. Finally, we will describe the most important current and potential applications of carbon nanotubes, which suggest that the future for the carbon nanotube industry looks very promising indeed.





amorphous carbon


atomic force microscope


atomic force microscopy


bovine serum albumin


catalytic chemical vapor deposition


carbon nanotube


coefficient of thermal expansion


chemical vapor deposition


deoxyribonucleic acid


1-ethyl-3-(3-diamethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide


field-effect transistor




high-resolution transmission electron microscope




multiwall nanotube




poly(allylamine hydrochloride)


poly(methyl methacrylate)


reactive oxygen species


scanning probe microscope


scanning probe microscopy


spark plasma sintering


single wall nanotube


single-wall nanotube


transmission electron microscope


transmission electron microscopy


thermogravimetric analysis




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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carbones et Matériaux Carbonés, Carbons and Carbon-Containing MaterialsCEMES - UPR A-8011 CNRSToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Chimie de Coordination (LCC)Ecole Nationale Supérieure dʼIngénieurs en Arts Chimiques et TechnologiquesToulouseFrance
  3. 3.CIRIMAT, Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche et dʼIngénierie des Matériaux, UMR 5085 CNRSUniversité Paul SabatierToulouseFrance
  4. 4.Centre de Physique des Plasmas et leurs Applications (CPPAT)University of Toulouse III (Paul Sabatier)ToulouseFrance
  5. 5.CIRIMAT UMR 5085 CNRSUniversité Paul SabatierToulouseFrance
  6. 6.Centre Inter-universitaire de Recherche sur lʼIndustrialisation des Matériaux (CIRIMAT)ToulouseFrance
  7. 7.Laboratoire de Physique des Solides (LPST), UMR 5477 CNRSUniversity of Toulouse III (Paul Sabatier)ToulouseFrance
  8. 8.Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Pulsés (LNCMP)Institut National des Sciences Appliquées of ToulouseToulouseFrance

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