CNI ushers in future with 30 nanotech patents

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Related tags: Nanotechnology

US-based Carbon Nanotechnologies (CNI) has issued 30 patents
related to the use of small diameter carbon nanotubes, or
fullerenes, which could revolutionise the way materials are made in
the future.

Many scientists believe that these tubes could help manufacturers develop products far superior than what is current on the market.

"Small-diameter carbon nanotubes provide numerous transforming opportunities, and the issuance of these 30 patents provides an extraordinary position for CNI,"​ said CNI chairman Richard Smalley.

"As the use of small-diameter carbon nanotubes is becoming more prominent in everyday applications, it would be difficult to imagine industries that are not likely to be impacted by this technology."

Nanotechnology involves the study and use of materials at an extremely small scale - at sizes of millionths of a millimetre - and exploit the fact that some materials have different properties at this ultra small scale from those at a larger scale. One nanometer is the same as one millionth of a millimetre.

Small-diameter carbon nanotubes are large molecules of carbon. They are cylindrical in form, about 1 to 3 nanometres in diameter and hundreds to thousands of nanometers long.

At their smallest diameter, they are single-wall carbon nanotubes and have a tensile strength that is 100 times that of high-strength steel and about one-sixth the density of steel.

For this reason, many scientists believe that nanotechnology could soon be used to manufacture new forms of packaging film. Other possible applications include beer and soft drink bottles with superior barrier properties.

The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (SINTEF) for example is currently using nanotechnology to create small particles in the film and improve the transportation of some gases through the plastic film to pump out dirty air such as carbon dioxide. It is hoped that the concept could be used to block out harmful gases that shorten the shelf life of food.

SINTEF scientists are looking at whether the film could also provide barrier protection and prevent gases such as oxygen and ethylene from deteriorating food.

CNI's 30 issued and allowed patents cover a wide array of application-enabling technology, including process routes considered practical for the production of single-wall and small-diameter carbon nanotubes, and critical ways to create and modify both covalent and non-covalent derived single-wall carbon nanotubes.

The company believes that these patents give broad coverage for small-diameter carbon nanotubes and their end uses.

"CNI​ views its patent portfolio in three categories: production, enabling and end use applications,"​ CNI chief executive Bob Gower. "With this announcement we believe CNI has captured the leadership position in the production and enabling categories. We also have an important position in the end use category and are using that to help customers develop products that will change the world."

The US nanomaterial market, which totalled only $125 million in 2000, is expected to reach $1.4 billion in 2008 and exceed $30 billion by 2020, according to Nanomaterials, a study from the Freedonia Group.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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