Advance Growth Methods for Aligned and Ultra-long Carbon Nanotubes for Naval Applications
Navy SBIR FY2014.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2014.1
Topic No.: N141-063
Topic Title: Advance Growth Methods for Aligned and Ultra-long Carbon Nanotubes for Naval Applications
Proposal No.: N141-063-0481
Firm: NextGen Aeronautics
2780 Skypark Drive
Suite 400
Torrance, California 90505
Contact: Jay Kudva
Phone: (310) 891-2814
Web Site:
Abstract: NextGen Aeronautics teaming with the group of Prof. John Hart at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology addresses the challenges of producing well aligned ultra-long carbon nanotube (CNT) fibers. Recent important developments have shown that individual CNTs can be grown to previously unprecedented lengths (>0.5 m). In this Phase I SBIR project, we plan to demonstrate a new approach to growth of ultra-long CNTs that are mechanically isolated during the growth process. This will be achieved by nucleating individual CNTs from sharp microfabricated edges/tips on a silicon substrate, and guiding the CNTs downstream through the reactor by balancing forces exerted by gas flows and external electric fields. We plan to study chemical vapor deposition conditions that facilitate ultra-long CNT growth, understand the influence of field/flow confinement on the statistics of long CNT growth, and perform quantitative characterization. Within Phase I, we plan for two design iterations, with the refinement to the reactor design based on our initial findings with the static airfoil. At the end of Phase I, we aim to have demonstrated the method for growing inch-long CNT bundles using flow/field guidance, and performed initial mechanical tests relating their properties to quantitative measures of the CNT morphology, diameter, and alignment.
Benefits: If the development of the proposed reactor design is successful, production of well-aligned bundles of multi-inch CNTs will be enabled with the potential to grow CNTs at any desirable length. Combined with the low-cost approach and high-quality yield, the incorporation of CNT will be propelled into conventional composite manufacturing processes. Current naval needs for the technology are in the main rotor Hub, delamination resistant tail rotor flex beams and thermally active nano-composites for de-icing applications. The commercial and military applications of a continuous and dense CNT fiber manufacturing process are endless. The commercial aviation and shipping industry would benefit significantly from this new, low cost material form. The need for lightweight structural composites for next generation DoD naval platforms (ships, subs, and aircraft) also occurs in commercial counterparts. The commercial applications for this technology are very broad because of the extraordinary mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties that this material affords. Potential uses can be found in the transportation sector (primarily for aviation); in the energy sector (directly in the form of low resistance wires or high surface area electrodes); and in the space sector (for light weight structures and components; i.e. telescope baffles).