A nanotech material that consists of about 50% carbon nanotubes may soon find wide commercial applications in aerospace and other industries. The Associated Press reports that researchers at Florida State University plan to soon introduce commercial products make from buckypaper, perhaps as soon as the next 12 months. From “Future planes, cars may be made of ‘buckypaper’“:

It’s called “buckypaper” and looks a lot like ordinary carbon paper, but don’t be fooled by the cute name or flimsy appearance. It could revolutionize the way everything from airplanes to TVs are made.

Buckypaper is 10 times lighter but potentially 500 times stronger than steel when sheets of it are stacked and pressed together to form a composite. Unlike conventional composite materials, though, it conducts electricity like copper or silicon and disperses heat like steel or brass.

“All those things are what a lot of people in nanotechnology have been working toward as sort of Holy Grails,” said Wade Adams, a scientist at Rice University.

That idea — that there is great future promise for buckypaper and other derivatives of the ultra-tiny cylinders known as carbon nanotubes — has been floated for years now. However, researchers at Florida State University say they have made important progress that may soon turn hype into reality.

—Jim