Harris, Peter J. F. J.J. Thomson Physical Laboratory, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:April 2019
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Molecular-scale tubes of graphitic carbon with outstanding properties. They are among the stiffest and strongest fibers known, and have remarkable electronic properties. In addition, carbon nanotubes are lightweight, elastic, thermally conductive, and may be either metallic or semiconducting. It is possible to functionalize (customize) carbon nanotubes by covalently bonding other atoms or molecules to them. As a result they have potential for many applications, such as in composite materials, microelectronics, energy storage (batteries), catalysis, and medicine (drug delivery and biosensing). Nanotubes may be single-walled or multiwalled (Fig. 1).
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