London, March 10 (ANI): A new American research has found that miniature tubes layered with a chemical fuel can generate 100 times more electrical power by weight than conventional batteries.
When these nano-scale "fuses" burn, they push an electrical current along their length at staggering speeds.
According to the researchers, unlike normal batteries, these nanotubes never lose their stored energy if they are left unused.
For the study, Michael Strano of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues coated their nanotubes with cyclotrimethylene trinitramine.
"One property that nanotubes have is that they conduct heat very, very well along their length, up to a hundred times faster than in metals," the BBC quoted Dr Strano, as saying.
He went on: "We asked what would happen if you perform a chemical reaction near one of these, and the first thing we found is the nanotube will guide the reaction, accelerating it up to 10,000 times."
The scientists used a laser or an electric spark to set off the reaction in a bundle of coated carbon nanotubes, and lensed the results with a high-speed camera.
However, they discovered the process created a useful voltage - a phenomenon they call "thermopower waves".
Their nanotube bundles carry, gram for gram, up to 100 times more energy than a standard lithium-ion battery.
According to Dr Strano, because a tiny amount of energy is needed to trigger the reaction before it becomes self-sustaining it could be initiated in a small device with the energy in the push of a finger.
Another advantage is that unlike standard batteries, the stored energy would not dissipate over time, and needs no toxic, non-renewable metals used in many batteries.
Dr Strano said: "I'm interested in the fuel cell concept.
"The conventional fuel cell has been around since the 1800s but corrosive fuels, catalytic deactivation and complexity have been a hurdle.
"From an engineering standpoint, thermopower waves could be a very simple alternative."
He added: "What we've discovered is more than just a replacement for batteries.
"To our knowledge, it's a new scientific area for research. There are many, many questions about these waves: what their limits are what the applications might be."
The study has appeared in Nature Materials. (ANI)