Minuscule tubes coated with a chemical fuel can act as a power source with 100 times more electrical power by weight than conventional batteries(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ battery).
As these nano-scale "fuses" burn, they drive an electrical current along their length at staggering speeds.
The never-before-seen phenomenon could lead to a raft of energy applications.
Researchers reporting in Nature Materials say that unlike normal batteries, the nanotubes never lose their stored energy if left to sit.
The team, led by Michael Strano of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coated their nanotubes - cylinders just billionths of a metre across - with a chemical fuel known as cyclotrimethylene trinitramine (Sony VGP-BPS8 battery).
"One property that nanotubes have is that they conduct heat very, very well along their length, up to a hundred times faster than in metals," Dr Strano told BBC News.
"We asked what would happen if you perform a chemical reaction near one of these, and the first thing we found is the nanotube will guide the reaction, accelerating it up to 10,000 times."
The team used a laser or an electric spark to set off the reaction in a bundle of coated carbon nanotubes, filming the results using a high-speed camera (Sony VGP-BPL9 battery).
High-speed video of less than a tenth of a second of the reaction
But they also found that, through a mechanism that is still poorly understood, the process creates a useful voltage - a phenomenon they have dubbed "thermopower waves".
Their nanotube bundles carry, gram for gram, up to 100 times as much energy as a standard lithium-ion battery(like Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery ).
Since just a tiny amount of energy is needed to start the reaction before it becomes self-sustaining, Dr Strano says it could be initiated in a small device with the energy in the push of a finger.
And unlike standard batteries, the stored energy would not leak away over time, and requires none of the toxic, non-renewable metals in many batteries (Sony VGP-BPL11 battery).
The current implementation is for a one-time use, but Dr Strano says he believes the approach could be adapted to a system in which the fuel is doused over the nanotubes after the initial fuel supply is burned and converted into electrical energy.
"I'm interested in the fuel cell concept," he said. "The conventional fuel cell has been around since the 1800s but corrosive fuels, catalytic deactivation and complexity have been a hurdle.
"From an engineering standpoint, thermopower waves could be a very simple alternative(ACER Travelmate 2300 Battery)."
For the team, however, the first task is to understand just what is going on in the nanotubes, whose mechanical and electrical properties continue to surprise researchers in a number of fields.
"What we've discovered is more than just a replacement for batteries," Dr Strano said.
"To our knowledge, it's a new scientific area for research. There are many, many questions about these waves: what their limits are what the applications might be."
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This year in April, from Ningbo , Zhejiang, Chi Kei be able to Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd. invested 10 megawatt amorphous silicon thin-film battery project settled in Hangzhou Bay New Area, a total investment of 21.76 million U.S. dollars, is expected to be completed by the end of production, the annual output of 10 MW of large non – crystalline silicon thin film photovoltaic glass, can create annual sales income 50 million U.S. dollars for sony battery grip (ACER Aspire 3000 Battery).
The project also means settled in Hangzhou Bay New District to build wind power generation equipment, solar photovoltaic cells, etc., represented by the green energy development, and manufacturing base to enter a substantial start-up phase.
Not just Ningbo, in the whole Yangtze River Delta region vgp-bps8 , vgp-bps9, photovoltaic cell industry are in the process to form a Development Summit (ASUS A3000 Battery).
Last year in May, the nation’s largest crystal silicon processing enterprises in Hebei Long Group, invested 2 billion yuan in Shanghai, the building of solar energy science and technology industrial park, including 4 of 25 megawatts of solar cells production line; of last year, a total investment of 30 million U.S. dollars in solar cells production base in Nanjing, the success of trial production, prior to, Jiangsu has been Suntech, Solarfun Power Holdings, Suzhou Artes, Changzhou Trina 4 PV companies in the United States, which Suntech photovoltaic industry has long been one of the world before the top ten, accounting for a national total capacity of solar cells 60%; the same time, Jiangsu Daquan, Wenzhou Chint other enterprises also have a high-profile industry into the photovoltaic cell photovoltaic cell vgp-bps8 , vgp-bps9 industry(ASUS Eee PC 900 Battery), a time into a new energy industry camp’s “meat and potatoes.”