What happened to the hyped nanomaterials?

March 4, 2019, Karlstad University
Krister Svensson, associate professor of physics. Credit: Karlstad University

Carbon-based nano materials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes were predicted to have a brilliant future when they were discovered. But quality problems curb the development of new products. The problem is that it is difficult to analyse the crystal structure and there are no established standard methods for classifying the materials. But now, researchers at Karlstad University are close to a solution.

"Carbon atoms must sit perfectly in a well-organised at precise distances, but they don't in the commercially available materials on the market today," says Krister Svensson, associate professor of physics.

Quality problems in nano materials curb development

The first studies of carbon nanotubes were made nearly 30 years ago, without yet meeting the high expectations for applications. The reason for this is largely the failure to scale up the manufacturing process while retaining a high quality.

As the properties of the material depend on the crystal structure, the quality of the material is absolutely crucial to the performance of the final product.

"The problem is complicated by the fact that it is difficult to analyse crystal structure and that there are no established standard methods for classifying the materials," says Krister Svensson. "This has led to a kind 'Wild West' situation on the market in terms of prices and quality of the materials on sale."

There is now a risk that inferior materials on the market are ruining the prospects of serious actors and interest in the material may wane fast. Then a hype is all there is and the point of real application is never reached.

"We have now developed a method to characterise material crystallinity and we can also demonstrate the detrimental effects that low crystallinity has on mechanical properties," says Krister Svensson. "It is quite obvious that the commercially available material fails to live up to expectations, it's simply a different material. Vigorous efforts to put a stop to 'fake' materials and develop standardised measuring methods and classifications of are required. Not until then can the market be ready to develop new products for the various material classes."

The project was carried out by Krister Svensson, associate professor, and Mattias Flygare, , in the research group CMM, Characterizing and Modelling of Materials at Karlstad University and presented in the journal Materials Today Communications (March 2019).

Explore further: Novel nano material for quantum electronics

More information: Mattias Flygare et al. Quantifying crystallinity in carbon nanotubes and its influence on mechanical behaviour, Materials Today Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.mtcomm.2018.11.003

Related Stories

Novel nano material for quantum electronics

September 10, 2018

An international team led by Assistant Professor Kasper Steen Pedersen, DTU Chemistry, has synthesized a novel nano material with electrical and magnetic properties making it suitable for future quantum computers and other ...

Watching two-dimensional materials grow

August 29, 2018

They are among the thinnest structures on earth: "two-dimensional materials" are crystals which consist of only one or a few layers of atoms. They often display unusual properties, promising many new applications in opto-electronics ...

The bizarre world of topological materials

June 27, 2018

In 2016, three physicists received the Nobel Prize for using the mathematical concept of "topology" to explain the strange behavior of certain materials—for example, those that are insulators in their bulk but conductors ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals properties of a Type Ib supernova in NGC 4080

March 25, 2019

A recent study conducted by astronomers has revealed important observational properties of a Type Ib supernova designated MASTER OT J120451.50+265946.6, which exploded in the galaxy NGC 4080. The research, presented in a ...

Catalyst advance removes pollutants at low temperatures

March 25, 2019

Researchers at Washington State University, University of New Mexico, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a catalyst that can both withstand high temperatures and convert ...


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.