If you want to get the attention of the kids running amuck in my house during the summer all you need to do is say cupcakes and everyone comes running. Scientists have created some cupcakes that wouldn’t be very tasty since the cakes are made from carbon nanotubes. They look more like hockey pucks than cupcakes to me and the they are made of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays.
The blue material you see in the photos is a piece of silicon that the nanotube cupcakes were grown on. The little pucks have a use in science that requires slicing of a little piece of the cupcake with a razor blade. That little sliver can be placed onto the top of a laser power detector and will absorb terahertz laser light. The material’s ability to absorb terahertz radiation that can penetrate a lot of materials like plastic, clothing, paper, and some biological material makes it viable for applications like detecting weapons, imaging skin tumors, and package I inspection.
The cupcakes specifically operate in the terahertz range from the far infrared wavelengths at 100 micrometers to the edge of the microwave band at 1 millimeter. The good things about the new material include that it is easy to handle and the nanotubes on the surface are so dense that you can see them without a microscope. The carbon nanotubes range from tens of micrometers to over a millimeter long. The material is still undergoing research with questions that need to be answered before the material can be used in a commercial product.