Carbon nanotubes.

Nanotube Filter

Carbon nanotubes are an allotrope of carbon, in which carbon atoms are bonded to each other to form a tube – much like if you roll up a layer of graphite.  The nano of course refers to how small the tubes are.  These nanotubes are extremely strong, light, have unique electrical properties and are good thermal conductors.  They can be used in electronics, optics, body armour such as bullet proof vests, building spacecraft and numerous medical applications.

To answer your question James:

From my brief internet research, it seems that  nanotubes naturally align themselves into “ropes” held together by dispersion forces, and are packed together in an orderly manner, much as you suspected. 

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