Sept. 16, 2002 — Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. (CNI) officially unveiled a bead form of single-wall carbon nanotubes today that it says makes tubes easier to process and handle. Called BuckyPearls, the pellets are 2 to 4 millimeters in diameter and retain the numerous properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes. They are available at the same prices as CNI’s standard tubes, which range from $375 a gram to $900 a gram.
CNI makes single-wall carbon nanotubes by continuously feeding carbon monoxide and catalysts into a high-pressure reactor. The process produces nanotubes with diameters as narrow as a few nanometers that stick together to form wispy bundles. To make beads, CNI added a step after production that converts batches of tubes into tiny black pellets. The beads are compact and denser than tubes, making them easier to transport and handle. CNI claims the final step doesn’t alter their attributes, which include being lightweight, strong, flexible, electrically and thermally conductive and sometimes suitable as semiconductors.
“BuckyPearls will be our preferred form of delivery,” said Ray McLaughlin, CNI’s chief financial officer, but the company will not penalize customers who want conventional tubes, which CNI sells in a raw form, purified and fluorinated. CNI has shipped beads to some industrial partners, who it said began testing them in applications.
Carbon nanotubes’ potential uses include flat panel displays, electronics, materials, medicines, sensing devices and other applications.