The properties of carbon nanotubes have caused researchers and companies to consider using them in several fields. The following survey of carbon nanotube applications introduces many of these uses.
Carbon Nanotubes and Energy
Researchers at North Carolina State University have demonstrated the use of silicon coated carbon nanotubes in anodes for Li-ion batteries. They are predicting that the use of silicon can increase the capacity of Li-ion batteries by up to 10 times. However silicon expands during a batteries discharge cycle, which can damage silicon based anodes. By depositing silicon on nanotubes aligned parallel to each other the researchers hope to prevent damage to the anode when the silicon expands.
Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have demonstrated a catalyst made from nitrogen-doped carbon-nanotubes, instead of platinum. The researchers believe this type of catalyst could be used in Lithium-air batteries, which can store up to 10 times as much energy as lithium-ion batteries.
Researchers at Rice University have developed electrodes made from carbon nanotubes grown on graphene with very high surface area and very low electrical resistance. The researchers first grow graphene on a metal substrate then grow carbon nanotubes on the graphene sheet. Because the base of each nanotube is bonded, atom to atom, to the graphene sheet the nanotube-graphene structure is essentially one molecule with a huge surface area.
Using carbon nanotubes in the cathode layer of a battery that can be produced on almost any surface. The battery can be formed by simply spraying layers of paint containing the components needed for each part of the battery.
Carbon nanotubes can perform as a catalyst in a fuel cell, avoiding the use of expensive platinum on which most catalysts are based. Researchers have found that incorporating nitrogen and iron atoms into the carbon lattice of nanotubes results in nanotubes with catalytic properties.
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