David Kirkpatrick

June 18, 2009

Turning Buckyballs into Buckywires

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:29 am

Buckyballs are a nanotech that seems to be rarely discussed these days with all the breakthroughs in other areas. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found a way to turn Buckyballs into Buckywires through polymerization. This steps adds to the utility of Buckyballs considerably. Buckywires should be better than carbon nanotubes in price and possibly performance.

From the link:

The trick that Geng and co have found is a way to connect two buckyballs together using a molecule of 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene–a colorless aromatic hydrocarbon. Repeat that and you’ve got a way to connect any number of buckyballs. And to prove it, the researchers have created and studied these buckywires in their lab, saying that the wires are highly stable.

Buckywires ought to be handy for all kinds of biological, electrical, optical, and magnetic applications. The gist of the paper is that anything that traditional carbon nanotubes can do, buckywires can do better. Or at least more cheaply.

The exciting thing about this breakthrough is the potential to grow buckywires on an industrial scale from buckyballs dissolved in a vat of bubbling oil. Since the buckywires are insoluble, they precipitate out, forming crystals. (Here it ought to be said that various other groups are said to have made buckywires of one kind or another, but none seem to have nailed it from an industrial perspective.)

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