Friday, November 17, 2006
400 Year Old Nanotechnology
The Arabs do it again. But how did they do it? It is still a mystery.
A team led by Peter Paufler, a physicist at Germany's Technical University of Dresden, recently made that discovery when the researchers found multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) in steel from a 17th-century Damascus saber (Nature 2006, 444, 286).
First discovered just 15 years ago, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are molecules of pure carbon with many unique properties. Smaller in diameter than a virus, nanotubes are about 100 times stronger than steel, weigh about one-sixth as much and are among the world's best electrical conductors and semi-conductors. Smalley, who devoted the last 10 years of his career to studying SWNTs, pioneered the first method for mass-producing them and many of the techniques scientists use to study them.
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