A Better Way to Make Nanotubes

January 5, 2009
The shortest segment of a carbon nanotube has been synthesized for the first time. The compound, called cycloparaphenylene, could usher in a new era of more efficient carbon nanotube production.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A compound synthesized for the first time by Berkeley Lab scientists could help to push nanotechnology out of the lab and into faster electronic devices, more powerful sensors, and other advanced technologies. The scientists developed a hoop-shaped chain of benzene molecules that had eluded synthesis, despite numerous efforts, since it was theorized more than 70 years ago.

The much-anticipated debut of the compound, called cycloparaphenylene, couldn’t be better timed. It comes as scientists are working to improve the way carbon nanotubes are produced, and the newly synthesized nanohoop happens to be the shortest segment of a carbon nanotube. Scientists could use the segment to grow much longer carbon nanotubes in a controlled way, with each nanotube identical to the next.

“The holy grail in this field is to come up with a way to make a single type of carbon nanotube on demand,” says Ramesh Jasti, a postdoctoral researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division. “And this compound moves us toward this goal of rational synthesis.”

Jasti conducted the research at the Molecular Foundry, a U.S. Department of Energy User Facility located at Berkeley Lab that provides support to nanoscience researchers around the world. He worked with Carolyn Bertozzi, director of the Molecular Foundry, as well as other Berkeley Lab scientists.

To synthesize the elusive cycloparaphenylene, the team developed a relatively simple, low-temperature way to bend a string of benzene rings — which normally resist bending — into a hoop. The result is a structure that is as unusual as it is potentially useful. It should be flat, but it’s circular. And it’s poised to improve the way one of most promising stars in nanotechnology is produced.

Carbon nanotubes are hollow wires of pure carbon about 50,000 times narrower than a human hair. They can be semiconducting or metallic depending on how they’re structured. Their unique properties could usher in a new era of faster and smaller computers, or tiny sensors powerful enough to detect a single molecule.

But carbon nanotubes haven’t made inroads into the electronics industry and other sectors because they’re difficult to make in large quantities. They’re currently produced in batches, with only a handful of nanotubes in each batch possessing the desired characteristics. This shotgun approach works fine in the lab, but it’s too inefficient for commercial applications.

Cycloparaphenylene offers a more targeted approach. The family of compounds forms the smallest carbon hoop structure with a set diameter and set orientation of benzene molecules, which are the two variables that determine a nanotube’s electronic properties. Because of this, cycloparaphenylene molecules could be used as seeds or templates to grow large batches of carbon nanotubes with just the right specifications.

This combination of precision and high yield will be needed if carbon nanotubes are to make the jump from the lab to the commercial sector. In order for carbon nanotubes to replace silicon wafers in electronics, for example, they’ll need to be just as unblemished as silicon wafers, and just as easy to make in large numbers.

“This compound, which we synthesized for the first time, could help us create a batch of carbon nanotubes that is 99 percent of what we want, rather than fish out the one percent like we do today,” says Jasti. “The idea is to take the smallest fragment of a carbon nanotube, and use that to build tubular structures.”

The research, which is published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, was funded in part by the Department of Energy.

Provided by Berkeley Lab

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11 comments

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NOM
2 / 5 (2) Jan 05, 2009
Is this C54H32?
abadaba
5 / 5 (1) Jan 05, 2009
no, if the diagram is true to the actual number of benzenes in the loop it would be C54 H36
NeilFarbstein
2 / 5 (4) Jan 05, 2009
What make nanotubes when you can use graphene platelets. They are easier to make.
NeilFarbstein
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 05, 2009
It's way too early to say that this method of synthesizing ring compounds is already a better way to manufature nanotubes. Nobody has proved they can be made that way. Its' all conjecture. There are other already existing (semi simple) compounds that can be used to synthesize buckytubes. They are simply too expensive for practical use now. The ring compounds detailed above are probably quite expensive. Vulvox has a real breakthrough material,we have a patent pending on it and there are real photos of our carbon nanotube adhesive clinging to a blob of silicone rubber. It can be peeled off and restuck repeatedly, like velcro. It sticks to wet rubber underwater and to wet oral and vaginal mucosa and there are pictures of it clining to exposed subcutaneous memebranes on a chicken leg on our website. I say its' about time that the editors at physrg.com gie me an interview and a story about this breakthrough material. They print a lot of stories that have no basis in fact that are called breakthroughs, with no scientific proof. The story above is one of them.
HTTP://VULVOX.TRIPOD.COM
TJ_alberta
5 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2009
Niel
Question: "It sticks to wet rubber underwater and to wet oral and vaginal mucosa..."

I am guessing that a removable adhesive for wet oral mucosa would have extensive commercial application as an adhesive for false teeth.

I could not find your photo of the nanotubes adhering to wet vaginal mucosa. care to enlighten us on the projected applications?
TrustTheONE
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2009
LETs GO TO THE SPACE ELEVATOR !!!!!

thats the holy grail !!!
deatopmg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2009
As a chemist, I view this as nice ACADEMIC lab work to produce another "curiosity compound" like cubane or propellerane. There is no way that Buckey tubes will be prepared from this material in a cost effective way. In fact, it is unlikely that this particular paracyclophane starting material will EVER be prepared in a cost effective manor, but I could be wrong.
Agisman
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2009
I agree with deatopmg. This is a great purely academic work that isn't likely to lead to carbon nanotubes. The thought of using a seed crystal with a catalyst and feed gas under the right (usually plasma) conditions to grow infinite nanotubes has been around for years. This idea is the basis for Smalley's "Royal Road." These chemicals are neat but the article makes only brief reference to the possibility of using similar techniques to make nanotubes. Thermodynamically, this seems unlikely as nanotubes are fairly complex structures that are barely understood as is.

As for the graphene platelets, they just sound like clumps of graphite that have been sonicated with a soap-like chemical. They are claimed to be small platelets of graphene several layers to up to 100nm thick which puts them squarely in the realm of graphite. I can't seem to find a single Farbstein post that adds anything but spam for a pseudo company with no documented research. Should he continue to attempt dismantling the valid research of others, we better start seeing a long list of credible publications to back it up.
NOM
4 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2009
I say its' about time that the editors at physrg.com gie me an interview and a story about this breakthrough material.
Good idea Neil.
Someone should investigate all the ridiculous research claims you have been making. It would be an amusing read LOL.
Wicked
not rated yet Jan 12, 2009
It sticks to wet rubber underwater and to wet oral and vaginal mucosa and there are pictures of it clining to exposed subcutaneous memebranes on a chicken leg on our website.


Does this mean we can finally attach chicken legs to our wet rubber underwear?
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2009
Niel
Question: "It sticks to wet rubber underwater and to wet oral and vaginal mucosa..."

I am guessing that a removable adhesive for wet oral mucosa would have extensive commercial application as an adhesive for false teeth.

I could not find your photo of the nanotubes adhering to wet vaginal mucosa. care to enlighten us on the projected applications?

LETs GO TO THE SPACE ELEVATOR !!!!!

thats the holy grail !!!

LETs GO TO THE SPACE ELEVATOR !!!!!

thats the holy grail !!!

LETs GO TO THE SPACE ELEVATOR !!!!!

thats the holy grail !!!


Yeah! I'm trying to get introductions to Tampax and other companies making similar products and long term treatment of herpes sores and papilloma warts might be possible with small particles that stick in women's vaginas. There will be a lot less slippage of tampons out of the vagina.

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