Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Duke Researchers Report Technique To Make More-Uniform "Buckytubes"

Date:
October 29, 2002
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Duke University chemists report they have made a significant advance toward producing tiny hollow tubes of carbon atoms, called "nanotubes," with electronic properties reliable enough to use in molecular-sized circuits.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University chemists report they have made a significant advance toward producing tiny hollow tubes of carbon atoms, called "nanotubes," with electronic properties reliable enough to use in molecular-sized circuits.

In a report posted Oct. 28, 2002, in the online version of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the Duke group described a method to synthesize starting catalytic "nanocluster" particles of identical size that, in turn, can foster the growth of carbon nanotubes that vary in size far less than those produced previously.

"This is really a first step toward a big future," said Jie Liu, a Duke associate professor of chemistry and the group's leader, of the unprecedented nanotube uniformity they achieved using this process.

Sometimes called "buckytubes," carbon nanotubes' properties were first studied by Japanese researchers in the early 1990s. The nanotubes, measuring just billionths of a meter in diameter (nano means "billionths"), were found to be lightweight but exceptionally strong, with unusual electronic properties.

Depending upon their atomic arrangements, nanotubes can act like conducting metals or like semiconductors, Liu said.

Since microelectronic devices such as computer chips use both semiconductors and metals, researchers foresee nanotubes as the building blocks for even smaller electronic circuitry than the millionths-of-a-meter scale resolutions of today's microchips.

However, "controlling the electronic properties of the nanotubes is becoming the biggest bottleneck that limits the development of nanotube research," Liu said in an interview.

The control problem arises because those electronic properties vary with the way nanotubes' atoms are arranged. And how their atoms are arranged is directly tied to the nanotubes' diameters -- which, until the fabrication advance by Liu and his colleagues, could vary considerably.

In their journal report, Liu's graduate student Lei An, Liu and two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers describe a technique for growing nanotubes with diameters that varied by about 17 percent.

Using a technique called chemical vapor deposition, An and Liu sprouted the nanotubes from tiny catalyst particles called "nanoclusters." The researchers were able to make each of the nanoclusters completely identical.

"We have shown quite convincingly that by controlling the size of the starting catalyst we can control the diameter of the nanotubes," Liu said. "This is the first time that an identical catalyst has been used.

"The ultimate goal of the research is to produce multiple identical nanotubes using the same kind of catalyst particle," said Liu. "We're still pretty far from there. But it really represents a step forward to show that we have a collection of identical catalyst particles to start with."

The specific nanocluster made in An and Liu's Duke laboratory is one of a large family of catalytic molecules based on molybdenum oxide, he said.

Their nanoclusters contain 30 iron and 84 molybdenum atoms, plus carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. While such clusters are not available from chemical supply houses, they are quite easy to make, Liu said. "And because it's so easy to make these clusters, it should also be easy to scale up to make large amounts of catalyst and large amounts of nanotubes," he said.

The researchers credited the use of a growth-regulating chemical called 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTES) for achieving more-uniform nanotubes diameters. The APTES kept the nanocluster particles confined to separate islands of discrete size as the nanotubes budded from a silicon dioxide surface.

If researchers can precisely control the nanotubes' diameters, said Liu, the researchers hope in the near future to make pure semiconducting and pure metallic nanotubes. "All the samples we are able to make now are a mix of metallic and semiconducting tubes," he said.

Carbon nanotubes are sometimes called buckytubes because of their structural similarities to carbon-based polyhedral molecules called buckminsterfullerenes, or "buckyballs." Pioneering work with buckyballs won a Nobel Prize for Richard Smalley's research group at Rice University, where Liu did postdoctoral work before coming to Duke.

The problems controlling nanotubes' electronic properties were recently noted in a news feature in the Oct. 10, 2002, issue of the journal Nature. "These difficulties may not be insurmountable," that article said, "but they have persuaded some scientists to turn their attention elsewehere."

In 2001, IBM researchers announced a "constructive destruction" method for separating semiconducting from metallic nanotubes by destroying the metallic ones with bursts of electricity.

An IBM news release said that other researchers have found semiconducting carbon nanotubes should be able to perform as well as silicon when configured into transistors. But nanotubes' molecular-scale sizes could result in computers that are smaller and operate faster using less power than today's silicon-based technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Duke Researchers Report Technique To Make More-Uniform "Buckytubes"." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021029065429.htm>.
Duke University. (2002, October 29). Duke Researchers Report Technique To Make More-Uniform "Buckytubes". ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021029065429.htm
Duke University. "Duke Researchers Report Technique To Make More-Uniform "Buckytubes"." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021029065429.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins