Just by picking up the phone, Nobel Laureate and nanotube pioneer Richard Smalley convinced University of Pittsburgh R.K. Mellon Professor of Chemistry and Physics John T. Yates Jr. to enter the field of nanotube surface chemistry. "Rick Smalley's phone call resulted in six years of exciting work," says Yates, who will present highlights of research done at Pitt during a Presidential Event honoring Smalley Sept. 11 at the 232nd American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.
In collaboration with J. Karl Johnson, who is the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical Engineering at Pitt, Yates has extensively investigated the use of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) as tiny test tubes. SWNTs are cylindrical molecules with a diameter equivalent to about three atoms. The tube walls are made of a single curved sheet of carbon atoms. Experimenting at such a small scale presents many challenges, but offers big rewards: "Doing chemistry inside of nanoscale test tubes allows one to probe the role of extreme molecular confinement on chemical behavior," says Yates, who also directs Pitt's University Surface Science Center.
In the mid-1990s, Smalley recognized that SWNTs would likely be excellent adsorbents because of the enhanced attractive forces expected for molecules located inside the nanotubes. Yates has developed novel methods to measure the relative number of inside and outside molecules attracted to the nanotubes, while Johnson checks experimental results and provides more details through theoretical molecular modeling than could be provided by experiments alone.
Yates and Johnson, along with their students and postdoctoral fellows, obtained a striking result for water molecules confined inside SWNTs, as reported in a recent paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The water molecules inside nanotubes bond together into rings made of seven water molecules. Yates and Johnson, who also are researchers in Pitt's Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering, found that these rings stack like donuts along the nanotube. The rings themselves are bound together by a new type of hydrogen bond that is highly strained compared to the hydrogen bonds within each molecular "donut."
The researchers first detected this novel hydrogen bond experimentally by its unusual singular vibrational frequency and later deduced its character by modeling. "The behavior of water as a solvent inside of nanotubes will probably differ strongly from its behavior in ordinary water based on the donut configuration and the new kind of hydrogen bond discovered in this work," says Yates.
In another development, research showed that reactive molecules confined inside nanotubes are well shielded by the nanotube walls from reacting with active chemical species like atomic hydrogen, one of the most aggressive chemical reactants in the chemist's toolbox. The work suggests that chemists could keep certain molecules from reacting by storing them inside nanotubes, while molecules outside the tube are free to react. "This could provide a new tool for focusing reactive chemistry in the laboratory to select one molecule and exclude another one, tucked away inside of a nanotube," Yates says.
The researchers' pioneering work could lead to future SWNT-based technologies such as time-release medications and highly efficient gas masks to decontaminate toxic gases. In addition, their research promises to yield new insights into basic chemistry. "Confining matter inside of nanotubes could lead to a range of new chemical and physical properties for the confined molecules, allowing chemists a higher degree of control of molecular behavior," says Yates.
Karen Hoffmann | EurekAlert!
First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
Nuclear physicists leap into quantum computing with first simulations of atomic nucleus
24.05.2018 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy