Nanotubes probably safe, Nobel winner says (News.com)
- Will nanotubes be the next asbestos and cause massive health problems? Probably not, says Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered fullerene carbon, the carbon used in nanotubes. But scientists, health officials and others who work closely with the thin carbon coils will need to demonstrate extreme caution, he says.
Carbon nanotubes have emerged as a miracle material that could revolutionize a number of industries. Questions about their potential safety are partially related to geometry. The tubes only have a diameter of about a nanometer, or a billionth of a meter. To impact a human cell, they would have to be fairly long, in the micron (millionth of a meter) range, which in turn would make them flexible. Asbestos disturbs cell growth because the fibers are large and rigid.
"A nanotube is the most rigid rod you will ever make, but in a cell level, it will be like spaghetti," he said during a question-and-answer session at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco this week. More here
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