David Kirkpatrick

September 21, 2009

Getting carbon nanotubes under control

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:47 pm

An important aspect of creating nanotubes is controlling their atomic-level structure. Looks like these researchers have found a solution to the issue.

From the link:

Single‐walled carbon nanotubes, made of a cheap and abundant material, have so much potential because their function changes when their atomic‐level structure, referred to as chirality, changes.

But for all their promise, building tubes with the right structure has proven a challenge.

A pair of Case Western Reserve University researchers mixed metals commonly used to grow nanotubes 
and found that the composition of the catalyst can control the chirality.

In a letter to be published Sept. 20 in the online edition of Nature Materials, R. Mohan Sankaran, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the Case School of Engineering, and Wei‐Hung Chiang, who received his doctorate degree in chemical engineering in May, describe their findings.

“We have established a link between the structure of a catalyst and the chirality of carbon nanotubes,” 
Sankaran said. “Change the catalyst structure by varying its composition, and you can begin to control the chirality of the nanotubes and their electrical and optical properties.”

The chirality of a single‐walled  describes how a lattice of carbon  is rolled into a tube. The rolling can occur at different angles, producing different structures that exhibit very different properties.

Nanotubes are normally grown in bulk mixtures. When using a nickel catalyst, typically one‐third of those grown are metallic and could be used like metal wires to conduct electricity. About two‐thirds are semiconducting nanotubes, which could be used as transistors, Chiang explained. But, separating them according to properties, “is costly and can damage the nanotubes.”

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: