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  1. 1

    To remove iron left over from the manufacturing process, the nanotubes are placed in a chamber above a flask of boiling hydrochloric acid. Evaporated acid precipitates in the upper chamber and drips over the nanotubes and back into the flask below, carrying the iron with it.
  2. 2

    Before the acid rinse (right) the nanotubes are fluffy; after (left), they’re densely packed.
  3. 3

    Pure nanotubes dissolved in a superacid sit inside a metal cylinder above a beaker of ether. A piston in the cylinder will force the solution through a needle suspended just above the ether.
  4. 4

    The nanotube solution solidifies into a fiber as it streams from the needle and into the ether. This spinning process can yield fibers hundreds of meters long.
  5. 5

    Graduate student Colin Young places a cardboard frame containing a nanotube-based fiber between the vises of a stretching apparatus.
  6. 6

    The sides of the frame are cut and vises pull the nanotube fiber from either end until it breaks. This allows the researchers to determine the fiber’s tensile strength.
  7. 7

    An image taken using a scanning electron microscope shows that the nanotubes making up the fiber are all aligned.

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