US Carbon Nanotech sees key role for new SWNT patent

06 October 2004 22:09  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (CNI)--Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc (CNI) said Wednesday that its newly awarded US patent for derivatized and substantially aligned single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT) establishes a primary technology for advancing development of the much-heralded new carbon.


CNI president and chief executive Bob Gower told Chemical News & Intelligence today that issuance of a new US patent for CNI’s SWNT product “certainly helps clarify some of the intellectual property position” for development of carbon nanotubes and their application in industry.


Gower said that among CNI’s 26 issued or allowed patents, this one “is certainly critical and important.”


CNI is developing SWNT production and applications in co-operation with Richard Smalley of Rice University in Houston, Texas. Smalley, chairman of Houston-based CNI, won the 1996 Nobel Prize for chemistry for discovery of a new form of carbon known as fullerenes, the underlying carbon substance that has been identified as a carbon-60 molecule in the shape of a ball - known as Buckyballs. (The terms fullerene and Buckyball derive from the similarity between the spherical carbon-60 molecule and the geodesic domes invented by the late scientist-philosopher and architect Buckminster Fuller.)


Fullerenes also have been identified as an elongated carbon-70 molecule that was the initial step toward production of Buckytubes, "molecularly perfect single wall carbon nanotubes" or SWNTs.


The new CNI patent is for “both pure and composite materials containing derivatized single-wall carbon nanotubes in substantial alignment with one another,” CNI said. Derivatized SWNTs are those that have other chemical structures covalently bonded to their ends, according to the company.


Alignment of SWNTs is desirable “in many nanotube composite applications, such as a new breed of super-strong composite fibres that are a blend of SWNTs and other high-strength polymer materials,” the company said. Alignment also is a key requirement, said CNI, “for creating electrically conductive materials at very low, and therefore highly economic, loadings of nanotubes.”


CNI said there are “hundreds of end-use products under development that include electrically-conductive plastic composites for use in semiconductor equipment and automotive parts; tough, lightweight and high-strength composites for satellite parts and sporting equipment; large and inexpensive flat-panel TV screens; fuel cell components, including electrodes, and sensors, actuators and other performance-critical components.”


Smalley said in a statement that the patent provides CNI “with a fundamental position in composites, fibres and other commercially useful materials with a wide variety of uses.”


Gower said the patent “means that people who want to use single-wall carbon nanotubes in a broad variety of composites and polymers will require the technology that we have in this patent.”


As far as advancing development and application of SWNTs, Gower said: “This patent represents a primary method for using SWNTs, so this technology certainly will move things forward.”

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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