Over just one decade since the chance discovery (or re-discovery) by Iijima, carbon nanotubes have attracted much interest from the science and technology communities, and have accumulated a vast array of claimed or likely applications. In the area of electronics, there is no shortage of remarkable and clever demonstrations of functional devices and logic gates. In the area of electro-optics, nanotubes have received much less attention but have perhaps as great potential.
This article reviews some of our explorations on this new frontier of electro-optics, following a brief introduction of the basic nanotube properties, and summarizes the key findings of the electro-optic, and IR in particular, properties of nanotubes. It then highlights a few new and potentially promising directions in which future nanotube research could extended. The emphasis of this review paper will be on the basic physical principles underlying the experimental findings and device explorations, rather than on the device and structure specific data.