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
Immortal quantum particles: the cycle of decay and rebirth
14.06.2019 | Technische Universität München
Small currents for big gains in spintronics
13.06.2019 | University of Tokyo
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.
The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.
Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
17.06.2019 | Information Technology
17.06.2019 | Earth Sciences
17.06.2019 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation