Year/Course: 2016-2017, Lent 2017
Project type: Technology

Contact: Dawid Janas, Cnergytec (& formerly Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy)
Mentor: Dr. Julian White

Carbon nanomaterials have shown great promise for applications requiring high performance in terms of electrical, thermal, mechanical and optical properties. However, the inability to form macroscopic assemblies with the desired properties has always been a major impediment to achieving their full potential in real-life applications. Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a method of manufacturing free-standing films of carbon nanotubes of highly-defined structure. Using this method, carbon nanotubes can be made into sheets or tapes of arbitrary size and shape. Most importantly, full tunability in terms of product composition results in macroscopic properties fulfilling even the most stringent requirements.

There is a wide range of potential applications with those requiring high electrical or thermal conductivity being the most evident at this point. Because of the very light-weight character of the films, full flexibility and resistance to corrosion, they would fit best where weight or repeated bending or harsh atmosphere is the issue. One can envision them to be the next generation materials for energy management in aerospace industry. They could either be used as heat sinks, electrical conductors or serve as de-icing pads if placed on wings to generate heat from electrical energy. Because of higher performance and unseen before features we can expect them to replace the traditional materials in the near future.

The question for the i-Team is to investigate applications where the particular features of this solution are needed. The i-Team will need to investigate the existing uses, and also initiate ideas for new areas which could be enabled by the simpler and more manageable implementation of this approach to incorporating carbon nanomaterials onto a surface.