First Certified Reference for Nanotubes
The ability to compare samples is of the utmost importance in science, but consistency is not always easily had. Carbon nanotubes are cylinders of carbon thousands of times smaller than a human hair. Their size and structure gives them very interesting optical, thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties. Producing them though is very tricky.
The production of single-wall carbon nanotubes often uses metal particles to act as a catalyst. On a larger scale this process will create so many impurities that samples prepared in the same lab cannot be compared, let alone samples from different labs. Now researchers at the NIST have created the first reference material single-wall carbon nanotubes. Before this the researchers developed methods to measure and separate nanotubes, as well as protocols and standards for documentation.
This may not seem important, but the ability to properly compare samples is needed for nanotubes to enter into computers and other pieces of technology. Quality cannot be assured without some means to measure it.