Adams noted eight Rice professors and dozens of their students are working on aspects of AQW. "We know how to spin nanotubes into fibers, and their properties are improving rapidly too," he said. "All this now has to come together in a grand program to turn quantum wires into a product that will carry vast amounts of electricity around the world."
Barron and his team are continuing to fine-tune their process and hope that by summer's end they can begin amplifying armchair nanotubes with the goal of making large quantities of pure metallics. "We're always learning more about the mechanisms by which nanotubes grow," said Orbaek, who sees the end game as the development of a single furnace to grow nanotubes from scratch, cap them with new catalyst, amplify them and put out a steady stream of fiber for cables.
"What we've done is a baby step," he said. "But it verifies that, in the big picture, armchair quantum wire is technically feasible."
Orbaek said he is thrilled to play a role in achieving amplification, which Smalley recognized as necessary to his dream of an efficient energy grid that would catalyze solutions to many of the world's problems.
"I'd love to meet him now to say, 'Hey, man, you were right,'" he said.
|Contact: David Ruth|