Future Tech: Nanoyarn

The very idea behind nano-anything seems so future-forward as to be within the realm of science fiction. Indeed, who could actually believe that millions of miniscule machines composed out of atoms as building blocks could actually become a reality?

Well, it’s true that we’re not quite at that stage yet. Science is still trying to make the dream of the nanobot a reality, one step at a time. The difficult thing about working on the nanoscale is that it’s so small that only the most powerful microscopes can even see in that range, and that limits who can work with them. But so far we’ve managed to create carbon nanotubes, which are cylinders made out of carbon atoms. The greatest thing about carbon nanotubes is that they have different properties depending on how you roll them up.

Nanotubes yield amazing tensile and compressive strength while retaining their flexibility; a higher level of heat resistance than ordinary materials; variable electrical conductivity, and even more properties than we have been able to thoroughly test.

Researchers have discovered that by forming tens of thousands of nanotubes in the proper orientation, they end up with a substance called nanoyarn. This nanoyarn is conceived of having various practical applications, including lightweight antennas, cables, and electromagnetic interference shields. There could be even more we could do with nanoyarn; the possibilities are virtually endless. Potential uses include artificial muscles, waterproof and tear-resistant clothing, extremely lightweight and ultratough combat armor, and many more besides.

Who knows? Perhaps twenty years from now we’ll be living in a world where most objects are composed of superstrong, malleable materials that resist decay, yet are thin and light enough to achieve the most fantastical structures. Nanoyarn might be the key.