Improved nanotubes for novel coating properties Extremely small nanotubes at the cutting edge of science have the potential to create new coatings that can upgrade a variety of products, applications and equipment. Industrial Technologies © Shutterstock Carbon nanotubes are extremely small fabricated objects, each approximately 1/50 000th of a human hair, that offer a myriad of applications for science and innovation. A new means of taking advantage of nanotubes has been developed by producing them in a more screw-like symmetrical way. This has allowed researchers to take advantage of their vibrational and electronic properties in novel ways, focusing on their near one-dimensionality. The EU-funded 'Computer simulations of optical and transport phenomena in carbon nanotubes' (Nanophensim) project is taking this research one step further. It is upgrading nanotubes to build better nano-electronic devices. The project is investigating the optical properties of nanotubes, or more specifically their electronic structure and optical transitions. This has a bearing on how nanotubes can be layered onto a surface in an almost one-dimensional fashion. Nanophensim is also studying any defects that surround nanotubes, and examining how they are positioned in order to perfect their application. The dispersion of graphenes (atomic-level honeycomb 'wire' made of carbon) involved in the positioning of carbon nanotubes is also being investigated. This dispersion and positioning is being examined in dozens of different types of graphene and metallic nanotubes, yielding valuable data on perfecting the nanotubes and manipulating their distribution more effectively. The knowledge can ultimately be used in a myriad of applications, particularly where coating of surfaces with special properties is called for. Relevant fields range from nano-electronics and aerospace to medicine and biotechnology.