April 08, 2005 Los Alamos National
Laboratory, operated by the University of California
for the U.S. Department of Energy, and Carbon Designs,
Inc. (CDI), today signed a cooperative research and
development agreement (CRADA) to collaborate on the
development of ultra-strong fibers made of carbon
nanotubes (CNTs). CDI will initially invest $2 million
in this joint effort to develop fibers expected to
be many times stronger than any current engineering
materials. The carbon nanotube is a scientific development
stemming from the discovery of soccer-ball shaped
carbon molecules in 1985 by the chemistry department
at Rice University. These microscopic molecules are
usually a few nanometers in diameter, or billionths
of a meter; comparatively, a virus is 100 nanometers
in size. The current CRADA is one of the largest sponsored
research agreements ever signed by the Laboratory.
CDI was founded by
world-renowned physicist Dr. Brad C. Edwards and Dallas
native Brent N. Waller. Dr. Edwards is known for his
breakthrough work with NASA proving out the space
elevator theory as well as multiple patents and authoring
the book, The Space Elevator. As stated by Dr. Edwards:
"Part of that experience led me to researching
all the necessary components and attempting to source
some of the strongest materials ever produced. The
super-strength materials I needed for that project
do not yet exist, but what I found were very bright
scientists at some of the top science institutions
in the world that had created something of tremendous
real value." As investor Brent Waller stated:
"It just made sense to me and our other investors
to take advantage of Dr. Edwards' knowledge of the
scientists and institutions that have made valid progress,
then complete their progress with the proper level
of funding to bring these materials to the market.
We are not in the business of funding 'someday technology,'
we know what we want, we know what we need to spend,
and along with our industry partners, our initial
materials will come to market within 18-months."
The current project
will be based on an existing LANL invention developed
by Los Alamos researcher Dr. Yuntian Zhu of the Materials
Science and Technology Division. CDI has also signed
an exclusive license with LANL for rights to use the
Laboratory's intellectual property. The partners expect
new patents to be developed during the collaboration.
The project involves both developing new methods for
synthesizing carbon nanotubes and new technologies
for making ultra-strong fibers from the carbon nanotubes.
The work to put this
exciting new partnership between industry and LANL
in place was led by Randy Tremper and his colleagues
in the Technology Transfer Division. "Work on
carbon nanotubes has been going on at the Lab for
some time, but it has not been as well known as the
work at other institutions" said Tremper. "This
collaboration will definitely change this. It is now
likely that this project will lead to the first commercially
available CNT-based material for structural applications."
The long-range plan
is for CDI, with LANL's assistance, to develop a supply
of and production method for ultra-strong CNT fibers.
According to Dr. Zhu, "The ultra-strong CNT fibers
will significantly impact NASA's new mission in space
explorations and revolutionize many high strength,
light weight applications such as recreational equipment
and body armors."
Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by
the University of California for the National Nuclear
Security Administration of the U.S. Department of
Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia
and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support
NNSA in its mission. Los Alamos enhances global security
by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S.
nuclear deterrent, developing technologies to reduce
threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving
problems related to defense, energy, environment,
infrastructure, health and national security concerns.
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