Researchers make carbon wire that could replace copper

Researches from The Cambridge University have developed a method for making a strong, lightweight electrical cable out of a form of carbon; a product they believe may eventually replace copper as electricity conductor.

The carbon nanotube wires (CNTs) are one-tenth the weight of copper, but stronger and much more flexible, said the scientists. If used in conventional systems, they added, carbon wires would also make vehicles more fuel-efficient.

Carbon nanotubes are extremely thin, hollow cylinders made of carbon atoms, considered to be one of the stiffest and strongest fibres known. However controlling those properties has been so far difficult, which has limit their practical applications.

They are also corrosion resistant and can carry a higher current than copper wires. Additionally, losses in transmission efficiency with increasing temperature are significantly smaller than in traditional wires made out of the industrial red metal.

The Cambridge University experts are now working on at least rivalling the conductivity of copper, as well as on finding new means to conduct power where existing resistance at junctions between tubes “is no longer critical”.