Columbus, Ohio (October 5, 2011) –A special configuration of carbon atoms – a cylindrical network of molecules known as carbon nanotubes – is attracting a great deal of attention from industry researchers these days. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be applied as additives to various structural materials through a process called adsorption, where they are used to modify the surface of industrial materials in order to achieve certain properties, such as water repellent coatings for automobile windshields and hydrophilic coatings for contact lenses. This potential has drawn interest from industry researchers in many areas, such as aerospace/naval materials, nano-electrical products, optical devices, chemical sensors, catalyst supports, water/gas treatments, drug carriers and artificial tissues.

CNTs are composed of the same element as diamonds but with a different structural arrangement, and possess extraordinary thermal, mechanical and electrical properties. Individual nanotubes naturally align themselves into cylindrical “ropes” held together by van der Waals forces, the attraction forces found among atoms, molecules and surfaces and caused by correlations in the fluctuating polarity of other nearby particles.

Sadhan C. Jana, Ph.D., professor of Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron (UA), has been studying the interesting properties of these molecules by simulating these microscopic structures using the powerful systems of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC).

The Akron researchers are collaborating with experimentalists at a pair of Ohio-based companies, Zyvex Technologies and PolyOne Corporation, to conduct this research. The investigators believe their research will provide industry with guidance and theoretical explanations to aid in the development of tie molecules and value added composite materials for automotive, naval and aerospace industry applications.

“With the rich manufacturing history of this state, advanced materials is a natural fit for the staff and resources of the Ohio Supercomputer Center,” noted Ashok Krishnamurthy, interim co-executive director of OSC. “Dr. Jana’s carbon nanotube research is extremely well-suited for our systems and has great potential to help further the reputation of Ohio industry as one that competes on the leading edge.”