Peter Yeadon announces development of Carbon Nanotube sheeting called "Buckypaper"

Associate Professor Peter Yeadon has just synthesized a thin sheet of carbon nanotubes, called Buckypaper. The work was performed at his firm, Decker Yeadon LLC, in New York City. To make the sheet, single walled carbon nanotubes were first dispersed in sodium dodecyl sulfate and deionized water. Because the 1–2 nanometer diameter nanotubes are hydrophobic, the sodium dodecyl sulfate was used as a surfactant that enabled the nanotubes to disperse well in water.

The solution containing the nanotubes was then poured into a vacuum filtration unit, which contained a microporous filtration membrane with 200 nanometer diameter pores. Because each nanotube was just over 20 µm long, the tubes collected on the surface of the membrane as the solution was drawn through its pores, like long hairs collecting at the drain of a tub, leaving behind a “paper” mat that is less than 100 µm thick.

Although Decker Yeadon are the first architects to make Buckypaper, there has been a great deal of interest in the scientific community surrounding Buckypaper research. Like the carbon nanotubes it is made of, Buckypaper has a number of novel properties that could be advantageous for a variety of applications. It is significantly stronger than steel, it can filter particles, it can conduct and disperse heat like metals, and it can conduct electricity.

“We’ve been very active in pursuing new applications for smart materials and emergent nanomaterials,” says Martina Decker, a partner at Decker Yeadon. “The Buckypaper material that we’ve just made springs from our earlier attempts, in 2009, to make an electrically conductive coating of multi-walled nanotubes. We’re hopeful that this new Buckypaper can be used as a thin, flexible electrode surface in an artificial muscle that we’re developing for architecture. We’re excited about its potential use in other applications as well.”

The first prototype of the artificial muscle should be completed and demonstrated later this year, and is being partially funded by a RISD Professional Development Fund grant. “Our first prototype will be small, because we’re somewhat limited by the size of Buckypaper we can currently produce,” explains Yeadon. “The sheet is about the same size as the filtration membrane, 90 mm in diameter. Although its surface has an area that is similar to the palm of my hand, the active surface area of the nanotubes in the material is tremendous. If we were to take all of those tiny tubes and roll them out flat, they would have a surface area of about 100 square meters.

Link to Decker Yeadon LLC

Link to video showing the actual lab synthesis of Buckypaper

Buckypaper, carbon nanotubes, Decker Yeadon LLC, Peter Yeadon

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