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Press Release 05-004

Carbon Nanotube "Shock Absorbers" Excel at Damping Vibration

micrograph of nanotube damping material

This image shows clusters of the carbon-nanotube vibration-damping material.
Credit and Larger Version

January 12, 2005


Arlington, Va.--Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a novel carbon-nanotube-based material that chokes vibration and may have applications for both large and small devices.

In the January 9, 2004, advance online edition of Nature Materials, the researchers describe the new material and demonstrate its usefulness as a filler to enhance traditional vibration-reduction materials.

Conducted by Nikhil Koratkar and colleagues at Rensselaer, the research arose from Koratkar's National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, which recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. This award is the highest honor bestowed by NSF on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.

Comments from NSF:

"True to the spirit of nanoscale engineering, Koratkar's team developed unique composite materials to maximize frictional damping. Although one may argue that carbon nanotubes are too expensive to use in practical systems, there is no reason why other, less expensive, nanoscale materials cannot be incorporated to accomplish the same task. This is an excellent example of someone taking lemon and turning it into lemonade." – Yip-Wah Chung, Director of the NSF Surface Engineering and Material Design Program

"In most mechanical systems, friction is often considered to be a negative attribute because it results in wear and unnecessary energy dissipation. In this case, professor Koratkar took advantage of friction between sliding interfaces to damp vibrations." – Yip-Wah Chung

RPI press release available at:



Koratkar's CAREER Award information is available at:

Further information about the CAREER Award program is available at:

Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-8070,
Mary Cimo, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, (518) 276-6098,

Program Contacts
Yip-Wah Chung, NSF, (703) 292-8360,

Principal Investigators
Nikhil Koratkar, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, (518) 276-2630,

Related Websites
For an update on Koratkar's nanotube research, see the Feb. 8, 2006, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute press release at:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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