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Carbon nanotubes

The world’s first factory to manufacture single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) was recently built in Japan. To increase SWCNT business in the future, it is vital to expand the application of SWCNTs and increase their demand. It is also indispensable to develop more advanced technology to mass-produce SWCNTs and significantly reduce their production cost. To achieve these goals, we intend to develop a dispersion evaluation technique, which will make it possible to identify the relationship between the characteristics of carbon nanotube (CNT) composite materials and the dispersion state of CNTs, and promote the development of products using the materials. In addition, we hope to develop revolutionary CNT-applied materials by making use of the outstanding properties of SWCNTs, which are 20 times stronger than steel, 10 times more thermally conductive than copper, 50% less dense than aluminum, and 10 times higher than silicon in terms of electron mobility. Such materials will contribute to the development of totally new “dream products.” Regarding the health effects of nanocarbon materials, such as CNTs, in the workplace, we assist business operators in conducting voluntary management of such issues. In this effort, we have been developing and encouraging the use of inexpensive and simple emission and exposure assessment methods, and quick and easy hazard assessment protocols.


Development of SWCNT mass production technology

CNT manufacturing plant (Tokuyama works, Zeon Corporation)

We have made progress in the development of SWCNT mass production technology using Super-growth method as a fundamental technique. Consequently, we were able to optimize the fabrication process and achieve a continuous large-area (500 mm by 500 mm) synthesis of an SWCNT forest (bulk), which led to the construction of a commercial-scale factory. Moreover, to expand SWCNT applications, we aim to further reduce production cost by developing a new fabrication process and mass production technology.




Carbon nanotube alliance consortium

Carbon nanotube alliance consortium
Conceptual illustration of the CNT Alliance Consortium

TACC exhibit at the Nanotech 2018
(Zeon Corporation, Sunarrow Ltd., and AIST)

Following the achievements of a TIA project titled "Nanocarbon application project to realize a low carbon society," a new open platform, called the Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Alliance Consortium, was established. This consortium allows various companies involved in CNT research to conduct R&D on an open or closed platform, as part of the innovation consortium-oriented joint research that the AIST is promoting. The AIST's researchers, who manage safety, assessment, and process technologies for CNT materials that are in high demand by CNT-related business operators, participate in the consortium and unite themselves to serve as a bridge.

The Team of Application for Carbon Nanotubes Composites (TACC), which started in April 2017, is the first open platform-based joint research team in the CNT Alliance Consortium. TACC is based in AIST Tsukuba and consists of researchers on loan from the Zeon Corporation and Sunarrow Ltd. and researchers from AIST. TACC develops master batches of CNT and resin/rubber composite materials. It also conducts sales of technology for composites, product development, manufacturing process development using biaxial mixing or injection molding, and other research and development activities. The TACC's undertakings aim to bring CNT composite materials to the market within three years, thus creating the first Japanese CNT industry through cooperation between AIST and private companies.


Development of CNT dispersion evaluation technique and revolutionary CNT-applied materials

O-rings fabricated from the CNT-rubber composite

In the NEDO project called "Nanocarbon application project to realize a low-carbon society," we are taking advantage of the TIA platform to develop a dispersion evaluation technique for the identification of the relationship between the characteristics of CNT composite materials and the dispersion state of CNTs and to promote the development of products using the materials. In addition, we hope to develop revolutionary CNT-applied materials such as heat-resistant rubber composite materials, heat-resistant resin composite materials, and low-electrical-resistance, high-current-capacity copper composite materials. Such materials may contribute to the development of totally new “dream products.”

Development of exposure assessment and hazard assessment methods to assist the voluntary safety management of CNTs


We evaluated the effectiveness of a several types of compact and simple measuring methods and carbon analysis in measuring airborne CNTs in the workplace, and calculated response factors and appropriate measurement conditions for different varieties of CNT. In addition, we established a standard method of dispersing CNT applicable for hazard assessment studies using cultured cells or animals. We compiled the measurement and testing methods and summarized the result in two documents, "Guide to measuring airborne carbon nanotubes in workplaces" and "Sample preparation and characterization for safety testing of carbon nanotubes, and in vitro cell-based assay" and published them in both Japanese and English.



  • CNT alliance consortium