Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Nanotech advance makes carbon nanotubes more useful


Researchers at UCSD have made carbon nanotubes bent in sharp predetermined angles, a technical advance that could lead to use of the long, thin cylinders of carbon as tiny springs, tips for atomic force microscopes, smaller electrical connectors in integrated circuits, and in many other nanotechnology applications. In a paper published in the April 7, 2005, issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Sungho Jin, a professor of materials science at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, reported a technique to create bent nanotubes by manipulating the electric field during their growth and adjusting other conditions.

"Controlling nanotube geometry is necessary to realize the many promised applications of these materials," said Jin, a professor in the Jacobs School’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “Our new results show that we have taken a step toward understanding how to shape nanotubes to our specifications, an achievement that could greatly enhance their value to society.”

Joseph AuBuchon, a graduate student in Jin’s group, exploited the strong alignment of nanotube growth with the direction of electric field lines. After growing an aligned array of straight nanotubes, AuBuchon switched the orientation of electric field lines 90 degrees to make L-shaped tubes. He then made more orientation changes to make zigzags. AuBuchon won a Gold Graduate Student Award and Best Poster Award for presenting details of his nanotube research at the spring 2005 meeting of the Materials Research Society, which was held March 28‑April 1 in San Francisco.

Carbon nanotubes hold great promise because of their exceptionally strong mechanical properties, their ability to efficiently carry high densities of electric current, and other unique electrical and chemical properties. AuBuchon used a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition technique to grow about 2 billion nanotubes per square centimeter on silicon wafers seeded with nickel catalyst nanoparticles.

Nanotubes, which are roughly 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, can be made almost perfectly straight in special chambers of gas plasma. Successfully shaping nanotubes has been a goal of materials scientists since a Japanese researcher discovered them in 1991. However, the creation of sharp bends is difficult because once a growth phase of nanotubes is interrupted, the catalyst particles at the tips of the growing nanotubes become encased with carbon, blocking future growth. A key to Jin and AuBuchon’s successful growth of bent nanotubes involved the discovery of a technique to prevent the unwanted carbon from encasing the catalyst between growth steps.

“It’s hard to imagine all the possible uses for bent nanotubes, but we think one of them might be to improve the performance of atomic force microscopy,” said Jin. Atomic force microscopy uses a mechanical probe to magnify rigid materials at the atomic scale to produce 3-D images of the surface.

Jin also noted that nanotubes may be used as replacements for conventional electrical connectors made of metal wires in ever smaller integrated circuits. Such wires are roughly 70 nanometers wide, but nanotube connectors as thin as 1.2 nanometers are theoretically capable of supplying sufficiently large electric currents to integrated circuits.

In addition, Jin said the interconnections between microcircuit devices are often made with metal alloy solders. Unfortunately, these solders expand and contract at rates different than those of the microcircuit device, and cycles of heating and cooling cause fatigue cracking at interconnections. “If these interconnections were made with electrically conducting nanotube zigzags, which also act as springs, not only would we need much less space to make these interconnections, but the thermal-expansion mismatch also wouldn’t matter because the interconnections are flexible,” says Jin. “We call it the compliant nano-interconnect.”

Using a modification of the approach to make zigzag nanotubes, Jin and AuBuchon also produced parallel arrays of T- and Y-shaped nanotubes that could be used to make fuel cells more efficient. These arrays of parallel, branched nanotubes could act as a 3-D scaffolding for platinum catalyst particles. High densities of platinum catalyst-tipped nanotubes could enable fuel cells produce electricity more efficiently.

Joseph F. AuBuchon, Li-Han Chen, and Sungho Jin, "Control of Carbon Capping for Regrowth of Aligned Carbon Nanotubes" (2005). Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 109, pp 6044-6048.

Rex Graham | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>