Rice scientists in the lab of Chao Professor of Chemistry James Tour discover a simple way to create basic elements for aircraft, flat-screen TVs, electronic ink and solar cells. They uncover a room-temperature chemical process using common materials that splits, or unzips, carbon nanotubes to make flat nanoribbons in bulk quantities. The ribbons are straight-edged sheets of graphene, and thousands of them equal the width of 1 hair, yet graphene is 200 times stronger than steel. Tour explains, "As an additive for materials, [the process] is going to be very large, especially for conductive materials. ...This is going to be the new material for many applications." Tour is working with Rice's Office of Technology Transfer to partner with manufacturers who will produce nanoribbons on a large scale. His work is funded by the Defense Advanced Reserach Projects Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration and Wright Patterson Air Force Laboratory through the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

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