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Carbon nanotube technology moves forward

NASHUA, N.H., 16 Oct. 2012. Skyler Frink speaks with Peter Antoinette, CEO of Nanocomp Technologies, about carbon nanotube technology and its applications for military and aerospace electronics.



Frink: This is the Military & Aerospace Electronics last word video supplement, I'm Skyler Frink and with me is Peter Antoinette, CEO of Nanocomp Technologies.

So Peter, how is carbon nanotube technology viewed by systems designers?

Antoinette: Well Skyler, I think you'll find that carbon nanotubes have been being looked forward to as the next generation of new and advanced materials. System designers are now seeing the possibilities of using these in new applications for electronics, electrical wires and cables, and shielding of large scale aircraft.

Frink: What applications does carbon nanotube technology have for aerospace and defense electronics?

Antoinette: In the short term it's replacing copper wire and cable because it's much lighter weight. It represents a bridge between today's electron based copper materials and potentially where folks are going to optical fiber, they don't have to do that. Optical cables are being used to save weight, these new light weight carbon nanotube systems actually save the same kind of weight, but still stay with the same electron based connector systems that engineers are using today.

Secondly is EMI shielding, for example, carbon based composite aircraft often get residual current from lightning strikes. They use metal to protect the aircraft, but residual current is still present. This light weight material is being used for EMI shielding and shielding internally. It enables better shielding for basically the weight of a coat of paint, and allows you to shield the internals of a carbon fiber based airplane.

Frink: What do you see as future applications for carbon nanotube technology?

Antoinette: Well, clearly you'd want to say that you can go into composites. Carbon nanotubes have at least the tensile strength of carbon fiber, but they are quite flexible. They don't have the same brittleness, so the strain to failure is different. They're able to be in a fabric like format where they can be put into the composite themselves, or be the composite themselves. One can imagine that the surface of a wing would be both structural, it would de-ice itself, it could be the antenna, it could report back to the aircraft and say 'we are or are not integral or not', you have enormous numbers of multifunctional applications that carbon nanotube technology can bring to aircraft and spacecraft.

Frink: So what do you see as the future of carbon nanotube technology itself?

Antoinette: The greatest challenge is being able to drive scale to volume and decrease cost. It's great to have a cable here that's 69% lighter weight, but you have to be able to produce this in a format and in a cost that can be broadly used by aircraft engineers. So the future is driving up the output, decreasing cost, and eventually getting broadly used across the entire industry.

Frink: Thank you for coming in to speak with us Peter. I'm Skyler Frink and this was the Military & Aerospace Electronics Last Word Video Supplement.


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