Friday, May 26, 2006

US Patent 7048903 - Single Walled Nanotubes with Thin Film Coatings

Richard Smalley was one of the earliest players in the area of fullerene and nanotube research in the early 1990's. Smalley and his group at Rice University filed many patent applications in the '90s dealing with different fabrication methods and uses of nanotubes. However, because of long pendancy times and use of continuations it is only now that these fundamental nanotube patents are being issued. This particular patent has priority to Aug.8, 1996 and includes several broad claims such as:

1. A dispersion of single-walled carbon nanotubes in a liquid comprising an aqueous detergent solution.

2. A dispersion of single-wall carbon nanotubes in a liquid comprising a solvent selected from the group consisting of benzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene, and combinations thereof.

3. A single-wall carbon nanotube coated with a coating material, wherein the coating material has a nanometer-scale thickness.

11. A rope or bundle of single-wall carbon nanotubes wherein the rope or bundle is coated with a coating material of nanometer-scale thickness.

While these claims are very broad it is noted that they are limited to single walled nanotubes. Several commercial applications of nanotubes are now well underway in non-volatile memory, field emission displays, and polymer composites. However, many of the current applications employ the more easily manufactured multiwalled variety of nanotubes.