NASA to use Vietnam-made carbon nanotubes

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The NASA Ames Research Center has inked a deal to use carbon nanotubes produced by the R & D Center under the Ho Chi Minh City Hi-Tech Park for aerospace application.

Under the agreement, the affiliate of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will use Vietnam-made carbon nanotubes to produce atomic force microscope (AFM) tips.

This is the first application of the nanotube technology in the production of scientific devices, bringing very high profit. The materials used to make AFM tips are worth only US$10 but the price of a finished AFM tip is currently quoted at $600.

The NASA Ames Research Center will also join hands with its Vietnamese partner to apply the nano composite technology in manufacturing the spacecraft hulls. Carbon nanotubes generally measure about one nanometer, one billionth of a meter wide and millimeter long. A single carbon nanotube is essentially a sheet of graphite curled up into a cylinder. Nanotubes were discovered in 1991, and it has thought that they may lead to an entirely new generation of materials stronger than steel, but very lightweight.

The R & D Center successfully produced carbon nanotubes by using domestic technology and local materials. The center’s products have won NASA’s confidence thanks to high quality and lower cost than Chinese and Japanese products. Currently carbon nanotubes are sold on the world market for $100,000 to $800,000 per kilogram. As part of the agreement, the NASA Ames Research Center would help its Vietnamese partner with capital, personnel and equipment to produce three tons of carbon nanotubes by late next year.

NASA also proposed to cooperate with the R & D Center in training human resources and sharing experience in nanotechnology. “This is a meaningful scientific cooperative agreement, which help improve the status of Vietnamese hi-tech industry,” said R & D Center director, Prof. Nguyen Chanh Khe.

Prof. Khe, a Vietnamese expatriate, returned to Vietnam in 2002. He has so far registered 66 inventions in Japan and the United States. His inventions have been widely applied in the field of manufacturing photocopy machines and personal computers.

 

National Press

Archived on Fri, 01/06/2007 – 17:23