Super-nanotubes: ‘Remarkable’ spray-on coating combines carbon nanotubes with ceramic

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Posted on April 18, 2013
This is a micrograph of one strand of a new spray-on super-nanotube composite developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Kansas State University. The multi-wall nanotube core is surrounded by a ceramic shell. The composite is a promising coating for laser power detectors. (Color added for clarity.) Credit: Kansas State University

This is a micrograph of one strand of a new spray-on super-nanotube composite developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Kansas State University. The multi-wall nanotube core is surrounded by a ceramic shell. The composite is a promising coating for laser power detectors. (Color added for clarity.) Credit: Kansas State University

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Kansas State University have demonstrated a spray-on mixture of carbon nanotubes and ceramic that has unprecedented ability to resist damage while absorbing laser light.

Coatings that absorb as much of the energy of high-powered lasers as possible without breaking down are essential for optical power detectors that measure the output of such lasers, which are used, for example, in military equipment for defusing unexploded mines. The new material improves on NIST’s earlier version of a spray-on nanotube coating for optical power detectors and has already attracted industry interest.

“It really is remarkable material,” NIST co-author John Lehman says. “It’s a way to make super-nanotubes. It has the optical, thermal and electrical properties of nanotubes with the robustness of the high-temperature ceramic.”

The composite was developed by Kansas State. NIST researchers suggested using toluene to uniformly coat individual nanotubes with a ceramic shell. They also performed damage studies showing how well the composite tolerates exposure to laser light.

NIST has developed and maintained optical power standards for decades. In recent years, NIST researchers have coated optical detectors with nanotubes because of their unusual combination of desirable properties, including intense black color for maximum light absorption.

Read more at: Phys.org