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But where's the bullet? In fact, it's in the bag. The bullet's still in here. Can we see it? So we have many, many layers, of course. The first one, second one, and usually about the third layer is where it gets stopped. And there it is. It took just four layers of Kevlar, each less than a millimeter thick, to stop the bullet. The seven other sheets kept that hole from getting any deeper. And as deep as any type of trauma might look, it's much better than that bullet going all the way through you. Right, I guess I could agree with that. Kevlar is clearly some tough stuff. But how does it work? If you were to zoom down at about million times Well, we have a really nice camera, can you zoom down million times? Kevlar is a polymer, a long repeating chain of atoms, in this case, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Each chain is like a stiff piece of spaghetti. Gathered into bundles, the stiff chains create a thread-like fiber that has a hard surface, extremely high tensile strength and enough toughness to absorb the impact of a bullet. Stopping a round is impressive, but there are other threats out there. How does Kevlar stand up to a knife or an ice pick? Don't try this at home. I'm not going to pay a lot for this muffler! I said, "Caesar, on the side. How can it do that? Well, it does it because of the tight weave and because of the strength and durability of Kevlar. The tight weave prevents the spike from getting all the way through, from working its way through. And the strength of that Kevlar actually helps blunt that tip and maybe even bend that tip if you are strong enough. Since it was invented, Kevlar has been used in all kinds of products, from tires to parachutes and even cables. And that gives me an idea. Tucker, I've got this friend. Um he's got a fleet of nuclear aircraft carriers and, they have these steel cables, a lot like this, that are designed to stop aircraft that are landing, or miles an hour. How does the strength of one of these cables compare with a steel cable? Well, we'd expect the strength of this, the tensile strength, to be actually equal or better than something like the steel cable. And, it's lighter and it's less dangerous if it snaps? Tucker doesn't think that anyone has ever tested Kevlar arresting cables, but I think I may be on to something. This, this could be a sales opportunity for you. We appreciate that, thank you very much, David. I'll look for my commission. With its tensile strength greater than steel, extreme flexibility and heat resistance, in a package that weighs one-fifth as much as steel, Kevlar could, one day, be a replacement for steel cables. But already there may be other, stronger alternatives. Scientists like Ray Baughman, at the University of Texas, are exploring the remarkable properties of a brand new material. I'm talking about the carbon nanotube. Dave, this is one type of carbon nanotube. This is what it's all about, right here? This is what it's all about. You know, I had a hunch they'd be like this. I just thought they'd be smaller. They're about a billion times smaller. Nanotubes are made of carbon atoms arranged in a rolled up, chicken-wire like structure. Besides nanotubes there are other forms of pure carbon, like diamond and graphite, the stuff of pencil lead. Nanotubes get their strength from the extremely strong bonds between carbon atoms. These carbon nanotubes can have spectacular mechanical properties, spectacular strength and very high toughness. And you make them here in this very lab? Ah, so this is where it all happens. This is where the process begins. It's not even that difficult. Here's all you need: One, a smooth surface with a thin layer of catalyst, a chemical that helps jump-start the tubes; two, a special mix of gases, full of carbon atoms, and three, this furnace, which, by the way, is really, really hot. How much heat is it in there? Right now, it's around Celsius. That's about 1, degrees Fahrenheit. Wow, man, I could nuke a pizza in like five seconds in there. You can open more. Oh, man, that is blasting heat. Oh, I see the little black wafer in there. Those are, yes, exactly. That is very cool, baking away in there. Wow, it's like a nuclear tanning bed. After just a few hours, the wafer is covered with a thick, black fuzz. So, it looks just like a piece of black velvet. So, if I were to really look in close to that, what would I see? What's it really look like under the microscope? Well, we call this array of carbon nanotubes a nanotube "forest. The name is apt. Each nanotube looks like a tall and thin bamboo tree: Now, picture nanotubes by the billions, all standing shoulder to shoulder and you have one of Ray's nanotube forests. There are, in fact, there are about billion of carbon nanotubes in that area. Hold on one second, I'm going to count them. Actually, I shouldn't be touching these. Scientists don't yet know if they are toxic. Even so, there is already a rapidly-growing market for nanotubes particles as strength additives for tennis rackets, bicycle frames, even high-end car bumpers. Many products already incorporate carbon fibers, which are part carbon, part plastic. But nanotubes have greater tensile strength and toughness. Ray has set his sights on making super-strong materials that are percent pure nanotube, made from his nanotube forests. These aren't just ordinary carbon nanotube forests. They are nanotube forests that have a very special type of connectivity between nanotubes. When we pull out one nanotube, that nanotube pulls out its neighbors, who pulls out other neighbors, to self-assemble a yarn or a sheet. Expert nano-yarn spinner Chi Lewis Azad gives me a hands-on lesson. Would you like to try? First, we start with a forest on a wafer. You see, you can just grab on to this little orange tab. Now, don't make it too high of an angle, and make sure it doesn't touch the edge, and just pull out. Whichever you feel comfortable with. As I pull on this little tab, nanotubes are coming off of the wafer, hooking other nanotubes and pulling them off of the slide. I'm so good at this. At too high of an angle it will—as this is now —it will start to break off from the forest. It's like coming out forever. I'll see you at the Texas county line! It's still going, it's still going.
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