Revolutionary nanotechnology: Carbon is paving the way

Nanotechnology, the study and application of extremely small things (less than one-hundred-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair), is revolutionizing the way the world thinks about materials.

Carbon provides one of the best raw materials for nanotechnology. The discovery of fullerenes — a new form of carbon shaped like a nanometer-scale soccer ball — in the mid 1980s opened the door to research and development on a remarkable new class of materials, including carbon nanotubes (CNT) and graphene.

CNT are like straws of pure carbon bonded in hexagons. Just one-sixth of the density of steel but 100 times stronger in many ways, CNT is the poster child of nanotechnology that launched a materials revolution.

CNT fabrics are at the heart of Lockheed Martin’s nano-electronics work, producing memory and logic devices that deliver high performance in space and other demanding environments.

The fairly recent discovery of graphene, another form of carbon and the strongest known material, is leading to ground reaking work in creating new multifunctional structures as well as high-efficiency filtration.

All of these promising carbon-based applications are just the beginning. Lockheed Martin scientists and technologists are partnering with academic and industrial minds to innovate nanotechnologies with silicon, copper and other elements to help address the global issues like sustainability, energy management, health care and security.

“Today and into the future, nanotechnology will remain one of our most important areas of innovative research and development,” said Brad Pietras, Lockheed Martin VP, Corporate Engineering and Technology.[youtube=]