Nano is real! And it's not just silver and sunscreen.

Larry Bell

Sheets of carbon nanotube material 4 yards wide and 100 yards long! Two kilometer spools of carbon nanotube yarn! Mercedes adjustable tint sunroofs! Mobile phone charging shoulder bags. Powerplastic! All of these were featured at NanoDays in Boston today.

Five years ago when we visited the Materials Research Society meeting in Boston we got some jars filled with a black powder that was supposedly carbon nanotubes. Getting some of the real stuff was exciting but there was really nothing we could do with it. We didn’t even want to open the jars because we were concerned about unknown effects of inhaling the powdery material. But today at NanoDays programs in Boston, visitors heard about techniques used by Nanocomp Technologies for binding the nanotubes into ultralong strands and forming then into huge sheets or twisting them into kilometer-long twine. These macroscope products have trillions and trillions of carbon nanotubes in them. The sheet material is being used on space vehicles including the Juno spacecraft, which is scheduled to be launched this August and will spend 5 years getting to Jupiter. The Juno spacecraft will benefit from the materials light weight and resistence to damage by high or low temperatures and harsh radiation. Research Frontiers demonstrated their SPD-SmartGlassTM, a suspended [nano] particle device (SPD) that can be used in architectural applications to precisely control the passage of light, glare, and heat through laminated window panes by varying the voltage to the film. SPD-SmartGlass technology will be used in the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK’s Magic Sky Control roof. Konarka demonstated lightweight, flexible solar panels made of Konarka Power Plastic.® This is plastic thin enough that you can roll it up or attach it to outdoor gear like tents or backbacks, carports and other kinds of shade structures, and even to window panels or widow shades. Moungi Bawendi of MIT speaking today on Quantum Magic in Nanocrystals used in a nice graphic by Richard Parez that you may have seen that shows the relative abundance of different energy sources. Here is a link to the source.