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Brain Storm and Carbon Nanotubes

Last year, I attended the course ES139/239 in Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, the innovation in science and technology. The final project of my group was about carbon nanotube (CNT). In the stage of popping up ideas, we did not consider any feasibility issues, and just used our imagination to create fancy ideas. I was inspired by other guys a lot, felt too excited after the evening brainstorm session, and wrote down the ideas I coined up. Some of them are not nonsense, e.g. replacing Cu by CNT as conductor in integrated circuit (IC). Later on, I find a piece of news in nanotoday (Dec. 2005) that the company Arrowhead Research was to provide $680,000 over two years to Duke University to develop technology for IC based on CNTs. Of course, I am not the first one to come up with this idea. But this means the random imaginative idea is very helpful and sometimes feasible. Another point I learned from this course is to write down at least one idea per day. Keep doing this, then you have a large pool of ideas. One year later, you have 365 ideas. Don’t expect every idea to be useful. Even if just one or two of them are great, it is worthy doing. Imagine that if the future technology originated from one of your ideas, you will contribute the society and feel fullness of ecstasy. If you can realize your idea, you can be a millionaire or billionaire, and then lie on the beach of Caribbean to enjoy the sunshine.

The following are the ideas I wrote down:

1. CNT Railway system.

The diameter of CNT is from 10nm to 100nm, and the length from one micron to tens or hundreds of microns. So this is a very long railway in nano world. And this railway is flexible, and so can make turn as needed. If some quantum dots or small molecules are in the tube or some rings on the tube, and they are driven by magnetic or electrical field, then the CNT is very good tool for particle transport, e.g. electrons, photos, atoms or even drug molecules.

2. Roller coaster.

The same mechanism as above, we can make a nano roller coaster for fun. J

3. Solar cell made by CNTs.

Align the metallic CNTs in one direction, and the whole bunch of CNTs form a panel. So use this panel as solar panel to convert the solar energy to electricity and store it.

4. Vibration of CNT.

CNT is one dimensional string. The string vibration can generate waves, which could be sound wave or electromagnetic waves. If sound wave, we can make nano music instrument, e.g. nano violin, nano piano, etc. If electromagnetic wave, it could be a good tool for radio emitter or collector, now the CNT works as metal needle.

5. Integrated circuit (IC).

The current IC structure feature size is about 65nm, i.e. the diameter of Cu wire. If the Cu wires are replaced by metallic CNTs, then much more circuits can be integrated on one single chip. Moreover, the conductivity of CNT is up to 1 billion A/cm2, whereas that of Cu is less than 1 million A/cm2. The next generation computers should be much faster than current computers.

Our final project was decided to design a flexible high-definition carbon nanotubes display. Actually, Samsung and Motorola have already been trying some products towards this goal. I attach our report here. And if someone is interested in it, please feel free to contact me, and let's have a delightful discussion.

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