Results of the team's study show that the greatest electrical conductivity occurs when the carbon nanotubes are not perfectly aligned, but only partially aligned. In addition, a higher conductivity at, or close to, the percolation threshold can be achieved with the presence of agglomerated carbon nanotubes. However, this also limits the amount of increase in the electrical conductivity of the nanocomposite with increased fractions of carbon nanotubes.
Standards for repair and maintenance of commercial aircraft have to date been based on the performance of metal-based planes, where damage is easier to identify. Techniques for repairing the metal portions of aircraft are well known and well established. But that's not at all the case with the composite materials used increasingly for primary structures such as wings and fuselage. Impact damage, for example, can be difficult to detect since it's less visible, and repair practices are not yet established for the multiple materials and repair techniques associated with them.
Thanks, Rob. Yes, the hope here seems to be that since the use of adhesives is increasing massively along with the use of composites, adhesives can help provide an early-warning system for detecting structural problems in aircraft. Reading about nanotechnology and its possible applications is like reading about science fiction, far more so than most other leading-edge technologies. I covered early carbon tube and carbon wire R&D efforts several years ago, so it was heartening to see that it's advanced to the level of possible real-world applications. Although this, of course, is still in R&D.
The self-monitoring aspect of this story is what fascinates me the most. I'd like to read more about this topic, especially what other areas something like this is being used in. Ann, do you happen to know?
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