Carbon nanotubes are a unique class of material that contains carbon in a hexagonal ring form. The carbon atoms are arranged in a regular pattern as well as a series of six in a ring. The unique feature of the carbon material is that it has a lot of empty space between the carbon atoms, which gives it both strength and stiffness. When these two properties are combined the result is nano tubes. These tubes are hollow tubes made just like our hair, stomach and eye hairs.
The multiwalled carbon nanotubes are used in many medical procedures to bring about a change in the state of a tissue. The tubes are injected into the body or wherever they are needed to treat the tissue. For example, they are injected into the abdominal cavity to cause a change in the function of a stomach lining. They can also be used to inject into the body to heal a damaged tissue. This ability to function in a different way than other methods is what has led to this amazing breakthrough.
If this technology was not in development today all treatment for severe diseases could be in jeopardy. Our immune system would be compromised by bacteria that had become immune to most medical drugs. It would be possible to get many more life-threatening diseases than we have now. Many scientists feel that our current treatments for cancer and other life threatening diseases are too focused on the symptoms and not enough on the cause. They feel that if this type of cure were available it would change people’s lives.
Although some experts believe that the single-walled carbon nanotube material will replace the current surgical tools in ten to twenty years, it will still be many years before we see the material in use. One reason that it may take a long time to utilize the material is that it is very fragile. This is because the carbon nanotubes are so small they are brushed away during a standard cut. The material needs to be heated in a process called ionizing the material which is done with water.
Some of the uses for the material already being developed are replacement hair dressings, tissue, electronics, solar panels, and fuel cell technology. When carbon nanotubes are used in tissue and other forms of biological material they are able to be woven closely together. This makes them very strong and stretchable. Another application of the multi-walled carbon nanotube material is in the area of prosthetic and cosmetic surgery. This material is currently being tested as a possible treatment for some debilitating spinal injuries.
Other uses for this material are finding a replacement for the Kevlar wrap that soldiers are now known to wear due to the extreme heat associated with hot plasma weapons. The material is also useful in the area of space shuttles and capsules. While these endeavors may seem far fetched, there is no telling how advanced this material will actually be. One thing is certain though. The development of this material as a viable replacement for Kevlar will no doubt mark a milestone in mankind’s quest to colonize space.