The longest carbon nanotubes you've ever seen

May 10, 2007
The longest carbon nanotubes you've ever seen
University of Cincinnati researchers have created the longest carbon nanotubes in the world. Grown in arrays that are centimeters long, the fibers catch the light as thin striations. Credit: V. Shanov, M. Schulz, University of Cincinnati

Using techniques that could revolutionize manufacturing for certain materials, researchers have grown carbon nanotubes that are the longest in the world. While still slightly less than 2 centimeters long, each nanotube is 900,000 times longer than its diameter.

The fibers--which have the potential to be longer, stronger and better conductors of electricity than copper and many other materials--could ultimately find use in smart fabrics, sensors and a host of other applications.

To grow the aligned bundles of tiny tubes, the researchers combined advantages of chemical vapor deposition (CVD), a technique for creating thin coatings that is especially common in the semiconductor industry, with a novel substrate and catalyst onto which the carbon attaches.

Supported by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research, University of Cincinnati professors Vesselin Shanov and Mark Schulz collaborated with post-doctoral researcher Yun Yeo Heung and students to develop the technique.

The researchers partnered with First Nano, a division of CVD Equipment Corp. of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., to use their laboratory and a specialized furnace called the EasyTube 3000. With the equipment, the researchers were able to break apart hydrocarbons to create a vapor of carbon-atom starting material. Within the vapor sat the new substrate--a catalyst made of alternating metal and ceramic layers atop an oxidized-silicon wafer base--which served as the foundation for growth.

"This process is revolutionary because it allows us to keep the catalyst 'alive' for a long period of time thus, providing fast and continuous transport of the carbon 'building blocks' to the carbon nanotube growth zone," said Shanov.

The carbon nanotubes are extremely long compared to predecessors--the longest is 3 millimeters beyond the prior world record. More important for manufacturing, the research team grew a 12-millimeters-thick, uniform carpet of aligned carbon nanotubes on a roughly 10-centimeter silicon substrate, opening the door for scaling-up the process.

The inventions were presented in April 2007 at the Single Wall Carbon Nanotube Nucleation and Growth Mechanisms workshop organized by NASA and Rice University. The research was supported by NSF grant 0510823, in addition to support from the Office of Naval Research through North Carolina A&T SU.

Source: National Science Foundation

Explore further: Research advances state-of the-art vibration analysis of carbon nanotube

Related Stories

S, N co-doped carbon nanotube-encapsulated CoS2@Co

September 5, 2018

Electrochemical water splitting is favorable strategy to produce high-purity H2. The current mainstream catalysts for water electrolysis are precious metals (Pt, RuO2, IrO2), which possess superior catalytic activity, relatively ...

Nanotubes change the shape of water

August 24, 2018

First, according to Rice University engineers, get a nanotube hole. Then insert water. If the nanotube is just the right width, the water molecules will align into a square rod.

Recommended for you

Engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors

September 19, 2018

In a breakthrough for nanotechnology, engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed the first method for selecting and switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors among multiple modes with simple visible ...

How medicine literally gets under your skin

September 19, 2018

If drugs are to enter the body painlessly and efficiently, they can be administered via skin patches. Researchers at Empa and the University of Fribourg are currently developing nano-containers for therapeutic agents that ...

Graphene tunnelling junctions: beyond the breaking point

September 19, 2018

Molecular electronics is a burgeoning field of research that aims to integrate single molecules as active elements in electronic devices. Obtaining a complete picture of the charge transport properties in molecular junctions ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.