Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Camera Flash Prompts Carbon Nanotube Combustion

30.04.2002


Image: © Science


It sounds like a photographer’s worst nightmare: the light of the flashbulb causes the subject of the photo to burst into flames. But that’s exactly what happened recently when researchers snapped a picture of some single-walled carbon nanotubes, tiny cylinders of pure carbon. The findings, described in a report published in the current issue of the journal Science, suggest that the minute straws could be used as triggering devices or for remote light-induced ignition.

The discovery was made by accident, when an undergraduate in Pulickel Ajayan’s laboratory at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute took some flash photographs as part of a different research project. "The single-walled carbon nanotube samples in this situation were just a jumble of tubes," Ajayan recalls. "They were not laid out in any pattern, and because of that, the heat generated from the flash could not dissipate, so the nanotubes just burned." Ajayan and his colleagues note in their report that only single-walled carbon nanotubes react to flash light in this explosive manner, emitting a loud pop before igniting [see image]. Because extensive rearrangement of the carbon atoms occurs, the scientists estimate that the tubes reach temperatures of nearly 1,500 degrees Celsius. Interestingly, if the single-walled straws are exposed to a camera flash in an environment devoid of oxygen, they do not burn, but their atomic structure is still altered.

The work adds to the ever growing list of unique characteristics of the tiny carbon cylinders. Their fortuitous discovery has not yet been put to work, but study co-author Ganapathiraman Ramanath of Rensselaer has plenty of ideas. "From an applications perspective, our work opens up exciting possibilities of using low-power light sources to create new forms of nanomaterials," he says, "and will serve as a starting point for developing nanotube-based actuators and sensors that rely on remote activation and triggering."


Sarah Graham | Scientific American

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: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>