Carbon nanotubes are extremely strong and flexible at the microscopic level.
However, when carbon nanotubes are randomly arranged, they lose the majority of their strength, an issue over the past few years in material science.
A team of researchers from the East China University of Science & Technology have come up with a unique way to create films where carbon nanotubes are neatly aligned, ensuring they retain their strength.
By utilizing a stream of nitrogen gas in order to push a layer of carbon nanotubes along the surface of the tube in a furnace held at around 2,100 degrees, the team is able to wind the material around a drum as it exits.
The carbon nanotubes then flatten and cool into a two-layer film, where the film can then be compressed by a system of rollers.
Ultimately, the result is a material that can stretch by 8 percent and features an average tensile strength of 9.6 gigapascals.
For comparison, carbon fiber can only extend by 2 percent and has a strength of around 7 gigapascals.
Kevlar fibers have a strength of approximately 3.7 gigapascals.
At the moment, the general consensus is that the material could eventually be used for automotive, aerospace, or military applications.