Tiny nanotubes (a billionth part of a tube) can be used to make materials with fewer defects compared to their larger counterparts. E W Wong and his colleagues at Harvard University, Cambridge, UK, have explored the strength of nanotubes. They determined mechanical properties of nanorods and carbon nanotubes. It was found that continued bending of the rods led to fracture, whereas the tubes had an unusual elastic property. Though the stiffer tubes ended up being weaker than the rods, the tubes represented uniquely tough, energy-absorbing material that may prove quite useful in future applications.
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