Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nanoparticles digging the world's smallest tunnels

Date:
January 23, 2013
Source:
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Summary:
The world’s smallest tunnels have a width of a few nanometers only. Researchers have dug such tunnels into graphite samples. This will allow structuring of the interior of materials through self-organization in the nanometer range and tailoring of nanoporous graphite for applications in medicine and battery technology.

Graphite consists of layered carbon atoms. A metal particle bores into the graphite sample from the edges of these layers.
Credit: KIT/CFN

The world's smallest tunnels have a width of a few nanometers only. Researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Rice University, USA, have dug such tunnels into graphite samples. This will allow structuring of the interior of materials through self-organization in the nanometer range and tailoring of nanoporous graphite for applications in medicine and battery technology.

Results are now presented in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

The tunnels are manufactured applying nickel nanoparticles to graphite which then is heated in the presence of hydrogen gas. The surface of the metal particles, that measure a few nanometers only, serves as a catalyst removing the carbon atoms of the graphite and converting them by means of hydrogen into the gas methane. Through capillary forces, the nickel particle is drawn into the "hole" that forms and bores through the material. The size of the tunnels obtained in the experiments was in the range of 1 to 50 nanometers, which about corresponds to one thousandth of the diameter of a human hair.

To furnish proof of the real existence of these graphite tunnels, the researchers have made use of scanning electron and scanning tunneling microscopy. "Microscopes, in fact, image only the upper layers of the sample," the principal authors of the study, Maya Lukas and Velimir Meded from KIT's Institute of Nanotechnology, explain. "The tunnels below these upper layers, however, leave atomic structures on the surface whose courses can be traced and which can be assigned to the nanotunnels by means of the very detailed scanning tunneling microscopy images and based on computerized simulations." In addition, the depth of the tunnels was determined precisely by means of a series of images taken by a scanning electron microscope from different perspectives.

Porous graphite is used, for example, in the electrodes of lithium ion batteries. The charge time could be reduced using materials with appropriate pore sizes. In medicine, porous graphite could serve as a carrier of drugs to be released over longer periods of time. Replacing graphite by nonconductive materials, e.g. boron nitride, with atomic structures similar to that of graphite, the tunnels could serve as basic structures for nanoelectronic components such as novel sensors or solar cells.

The graphite tunnel study was carried out by the study groups headed by Pulickel M. Ajayan from Rice University, USA, and Ralph Krupke and Wolfgang Wenzel from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maya Lukas, Velimir Meded, Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Li Song, Pulickel M. Ajayan, Karin Fink, Wolfgang Wenzel, Ralph Krupke. Catalytic subsurface etching of nanoscale channels in graphite. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1379 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2399

Cite This Page:

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Nanoparticles digging the world's smallest tunnels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123115245.htm>.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. (2013, January 23). Nanoparticles digging the world's smallest tunnels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123115245.htm
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Nanoparticles digging the world's smallest tunnels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123115245.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple's new operating system, iOS 8, comes with Apple's killswitch feature already activated, unlike all the models before it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
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