Much of the history of plastics over the last half century has been as a replacement for metal. For structural applications, plastics have made tremendous headway, but not where electrical conductivity is required, plastics being famously good electrical insulators.
This deficiency is overcome by loading plastics up with conductive fillers, such as carbon black and graphite fibres (the larger ones used to make golf clubs and tennis racquets). The loading required to provide the necessary conductivity is typically high, however, resulting in heavy parts, and more importantly, plastic parts whose structural properties are highly degraded.
It is well established that the higher aspect ratio of a filler, the lower loading required to achieve a given level of conductivity. Buckytubes are ideal in this sense, since they have the highest aspect ratio of any carbon fibre. In addition, their natural tendency to form ropes provides inherently very long conductive pathways even at ultra-low loadings.
Applications that exploit this behaviour of Buckytubes include EMI/RFI shielding composites and coatings for enclosures, gaskets, and other uses; electrostatic dissipation (ESD), and antistatic materials and (even transparent!) coatings; and radar-absorbing materials.
Conductive Adhesives and Connectors
The same issues that make Buckytubes attractive as conductive fillers for use in shielding, ESD materials, etc., make them attractive for electronics materials, such as adhesives and other connectors (e.g., solders).