Once the most promising of all nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are in danger of being usurped in conductive applications by graphene and in composites by nanocellulose. However, CNTs will remain competitive against these materials, and potentially complementary. After considerable research efforts, real products are coming to the market. Transparent conductors, battery additives and transistors represent the most promising markets for CNTs. They are widely viewed as viable candidates as alternatives to ITO in transparent conductors and the main candidate to replace silicon in transistors. Products including CNT TEM grids and CNT touch panels have already been commercialized. CNT yarns and sheets have demonstrated promising performance improvements for applications such as supercapacitors, actuators, and lightweight electromagnetic shields.
Single-walled nanotube (SWNT) products will also be hitting the market over the next year. Advances in CNT synthesis, purification and chemical modification are also enabling integration of CNTs in thin-film electronics and large-area coatings. In May 2014, OCSiAl and Zeon Corporation both announced plans to significantly increase SWNT production, and applications such as SWNT super-capacitors and composites are coming to market soon.
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