Carbon nanotube materials for aerospace wiring

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Title: Carbon nanotube materials for aerospace wiring
Author: Alvarenga, Jack
Abstract: With large amounts of time and money invested in the advancement of aerospace structures, the performance and reliability are crucial factors in the development of new components to extend the lifetime of these spacecrafts. Wires composed of long, highly aligned, and defect-free carbon nanotubes (CNTs) could have a great impact on aerospace, military, and industrial applications which require lightweight and durable electrically conductive materials. Carbon nanotubes represent an ideal material which is not only electrically conductive, but also exhibits resistance to oxidation, radiation tolerance, and mechanical robustness. Highly conductive bulk carbon nanotube wires were drawn to meter lengths using a drawing die process. A series of solvents were investigated as potential lubricants to improve the process as well as the electrical and mechanical properties of the resulting wires. Inorganic and organic chemical doping was used in conjunction with densification to increase the electrical conductivity of the wires, achieving a maximum conductivity of 1.3 x 106 S/m. Temperature dependent electrical conductivity measurements were recorded to evaluate the fundamental electrical conduction mechanism in CNT wires resulting from the doping and densification processes. These measurements indicated that the electron tunneling barrier between adjacent CNTs can be drastically reduced by ionic doping and densification. Furthermore, a novel technique of contacting CNT wires to metals via ultrasonic welding was reported with mechanical and electrical characterization of the welds achieved. Lastly, real world demonstrations of the power and data transmission capabilities of these CNT wires were constructed and tested, specifically a USB cable and coaxial wires.
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Date: 2010-08-24

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