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Fibers spun from carbon nanotubes have the conductivity of copper and the strength of advanced composites.

Carbon nanotubes have superlative strength and conductivity, but in the two decades since their discovery, it’s proved difficult to make long strands out of them that could take advantage of those properties. Now researchers at Rice University and Dutch materials company Teijin Aramid are making thread-like nanotube fibers that combine the electrical conductivity of metals with the strength of carbon composites, and are lightweight, flexible, and thermally conductive.

Teijin Aramid, based in Arnhem, Netherlands, and a leading producer of high-strength fibers, plans to commercialize the nanotube-based materials, likely first in wiring for planes and satellites, and eventually in electronic textiles and medical implants that resist corrosion.

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