Kitchen chemistry is alive and well at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) as chemical researchers report cooking up a new and more water- soluble strain of carbon nanotubes. An article about this work, "Rapidly Functionalized, Water-Dispersed Carbon Nanotubes at High Concentration," appeared Jan. 11, 2006, in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The team led by Somenath Mitra, PhD, acting chair and professor, department of chemistry and environmental sciences, and Iqbal Zafar, PhD, research professor in the same department, along with graduate student Yubing Wang, have developed a quick and simple method to produce water-soluble carbon nanotubes. This is something that has never been done before. They report that the new nanotubes are 125 times more water soluble than existing ones. In addition, the new nanotubes, following a short heat treatment, can conduct electricity as well as the non-soluble ones.
To achieve results the researchers added carbon nanotubes to a mixture of nitric acid and sulfuric acid. The mixture was heated in a closed vessel microwave reactor for only three minutes. In addition, upon closer examination, the NJIT researchers found that the new solution contained concentrations of soluble nanotubes that were as high as 10mg/mL, compared with only around 0.08mg/m, reported before. The new or transformed tubes, had turned into something with salt-like characteristics. It now contained carboxylated and acid-sulfonated groups, similar to those present in acetic acid or vinegar and salts of sulfuric acid, respectively. "
Sheryl Weinstein | EurekAlert!
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