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TNT-covered carbon nanotube fibers generate electricity when burned

MIT Technology Review: Four years ago, Michael Strano of MIT and his colleagues created yarn out of carbon nanotubes that were covered in TNT. When ignited with a laser, the fibers burned like fuses, but with the curious effect of generating an electrical current. Strano's team has now discovered that the combustion creates a wave of electrons that travels down the fiber. Thanks to the discovery, they could increase the yarn's electricity-generating efficiency by a factor of 10 000, with the potential for further increases. The actual efficiency is still very low compared with that of traditional combustion generators, but Strano believes the material could find use in applications that need short bursts of electricity. With further advances, large versions of the generators could be used to power electric motors with liquid fuels.
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