Ultraconductive Cu-CNT composite, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is a new class of high-performance conductors in which carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are incorporated into a copper (Cu) matrix, demonstrate improved electrical conductivity, higher current-carrying capacity, and improved mechanical properties compared to pure Cu.
Growing demand for electrical energy and increasing need for more energy-efficient power delivery necessitates development of improved conductors that could provide enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity, higher ampacity and better mechanical strength. Such conductors will improve energy utilization through reduced ohmic losses, transport power with smaller and/or lighter-weight wires and cables, and enable better thermal management across system components, potentially resulting in immense technological, economic, and environmental benefits in all energy sectors. ORNL UCC technology couples the excellent properties of CNTs such as high conductivity and high strength together with novel methods to produce scalable assemblies of Cu-CNT multilayer composites. Relying on industry-standard equipment and inherently scalable manufacturing processes, the resulting UCCs offer innovative advances of improved electrical and mechanical properties over pure Cu. This suite of characteristics has never been possible in one product.