Carbon nanotubes, microscopic filaments as strong as they are light, have been in the research phase for a decade. Many researchers were hopeful they could replace copper wiring in our ever-smaller mobile devices but, just as Thomas Edison experienced when building his light bulb, the carbon tends to burn out too quickly under high temperatures. In principle, the carbon tubes could carry 1,000 times more electric current than metal conductors of the same size.
What’s the Big Idea?
Nanotubes currently demonstrate more promise in the field of biotechnology. Mark Strus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology says, “Carbon nanotube networks may not be the replacement for copper in logic or memory devices, but they may turn out to be interconnects for flexible electronic displays or photovoltaics.” Other researchers want to use the tubes to create better biosensors which react in the presence of a certain enzyme. Diabetes sensors for insulin management is one possible tool.