Chemists at Rice University have identified a chemical process for cutting carbon nanotubes into short segments. The new process yields nanotubes that are suitable for a variety of applications, including biomedical sensors small enough to migrate through cells without triggering immune reactions.
The chemical cutting process involves fluorinating the nanotubes, essentially attaching thousands of fluorine atoms to their sides, and then heating the fluoronanotubes to about 1,000 Celsius in an argon atmosphere. During the heating, the fluorine is driven off and the nanotubes are cut into segments ranging in length from 20-300 nanometers.
"We have studied several forms of chemical "scissors", including other fluorination methods and processes that involve ozonization of nanotubes," said John Margrave, the E.D. Butcher Professor of Chemistry at Rice University. "With most methods, we see a random distribution among the lengths of the cut tubes, but pyrolytic fluorination results in a more predictable distribution of lengths."
Jade Boyd | EurekAlert!
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