Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Taming carbon nanotubes

07.02.2011
Carbon nanotubes have many attractive properties, and their structure and areas of application can be compared with those of graphene, the material for whose discovery the most recent Nobel Prize was awarded. In order to be able to exploit these properties, however, it is necessary to have full control of the manufacturing process. Scientists at the University of Gothenburg are closing in on the answer.

“Our results show that the metal particles that form the basis of the manufacture of carbon nanotubes must have a certain minimum size, in order for growth to start and to continue. It is also probable that the particles are in liquid form at a manufacturing temperature of around 800 °C, even though the metals used may have much higher melting points”, says Anders Börjesson from the Department of Physics at the University of Gothenburg.

The scientists have used various computer models to study in detail properties that are difficult or impossible to examine in experimental conditions. Only when we fully understand the manufacturing process will we be able to exploit this material fully.

The diameter of the nanotubes is of the order of one billionth of a metre, and they can be as thin as a single carbon layer. The length of the tubes, in contrast, can extend from the nanometre scale up to several decimetres. Carbon nanotubes can be regarded, quite simply, as thin threads of pure carbon, whose length can be a billion times greater than their thickness.

Interest for nanotubes is based on their outstanding properties: they are among the strongest materials known and have extremely high conductivity for both electric current and heat.

The strength can be used to reinforce other materials, just as the strength of glass and carbon fibres is used in plastics, and steel reinforcement is used in concrete. Carbon nanotubes, however, would enable plastics to be manufactured that are ten times stronger than the strongest materials available today. Such materials could be used not only in exclusive sports equipment but also in the construction of buildings that appear to come from science fiction: a lift between the Earth and space could be anchored using a material based on nanotubes.

The carbon nanotubes may also replace other material when it comes to conducting very high electrical currents, since they do not become hot, nor do they catch fire. Certain nanotubes have semiconducting properties and could be used to build nanoelectronic circuits, giving much smaller and faster processors to be used in computers.

One way of combining the strength and electrical properties of the carbon nanotubes would be to mix them with polymer material, and by weaving threads that also contain electronic circuits. It would be possible, for example, to weave instruments for monitoring heart function directly into clothes.

The thesis In Silco Studies of Carbon Nanotubes and Metal Clusters (Beräkningsstudier av kolnanorör och metallkluster)has been successfully defended. Supervisor: Professor Kim Bolton. The research has been a collaboration between the University of Gothenburg and the University of Borås.

Contact:
Anders Börjesson, Department of Physics, University of Gothenburg
+46(0)31 786 9143
+46(0)70 240 1145
anders.borjesson@physics.gu.se

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://bada.hb.se/handle/2320/6908
http://www.gu.se

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Decoding cement's shape promises greener concrete
08.12.2016 | Rice University

nachricht Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D
08.12.2016 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>