Copper Nanotubes – The Promise of High Ampacity Conductors

Increasing portability, versatility and ubiquity of electronic devices require their conductors to become miniaturized, facilitating current flow through narrow channels. However, copper-based conductors are increasingly challenged with a lack of conductive properties, such as high-current-carrying capacity (ampacity) [22,26].

The discovery of buckyballs and carbon nanotubes in the early 1990’s led to their widespread use for electrical applications, including cathode ray tubes for flat panel displays, gas-discharge tubes in telecom networks and electrodes for electron field emitters. Their extraordinary properties, including a current-carrying capacity per unit area that is one thousand times greater than copper and a tensile strength fifty times stronger than steel, have made them highly promising for many future applications.

CNTs are a unique material, having a number of concentric cylinders arranged in a single hollow tubular structure. This design enables them to achieve a wide range of structural and electronic properties. They have a relatively high surface area, which means that they can be used as electrodes in microscale electronics and inverters, while their hollow nature makes them ideal for super capacitors. Other potential applications include batteries, which can benefit from their increased ampacity.

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