This may not be the kind of yarn you were planning to crochet a sweater with in the near future, but it’s what scientists are doing with carbon molecules to create a fiber stronger than steel! Further, unlike carbon steel, the material widely used to build automobiles, skyscrapers, and bridges, carbon nanotube fiber is heat resistant and has great tensile strength (it can stretch).
How do I know this stuff? Well, I am naturally smart. But, I happened to be watching this episode of Nova on PBS and learned all about it. I love science and hate most prime time TV, so this show captured my attention. I didn’t know it would be about yarn. It told me it would be investigating science to find something stronger than steel.
After crashing cars and catching jet fighters on aircraft carriers to demonstrate the strength of materials that mankind has relied on for centuries, they discussed the first ‘created’ fiber (nylon) and then Kevlar and its origins and applications (our soldiers wear it in combat, for instance). It was invented by – a woman! Really. Well, who else would have more interest in creating protective clothing? Makes sense to me.
From the DuPont website:
Kevlar® comes in a variety of yarns, fibers and papers that can be built into virtually any solid form. Depending on the application, manufacturers can choose the type of Kevlar ® that is appropriate for the intended use
So, I’m not sure that the carbon fiber will be available any time soon for us to crochet with. But, it’s coming. Right now, they can twist the fibers to make yarn – but only about a foot in length. Present technology needs to be expanded upon to increase the length of the fibers to make it into yarn. Further, it’s only available in basic black. Not many fashion options there.
Other future yarns? Goat’s milk genetically ‘spiked’ with spider silk!
BTW, I have no idea what the four part picture above is supposed to be showing us. I just like that we can actually see the relationship to yarn that the carbon fibers presently demonstrate.