Why would anyone want to shrink carbon nanotubes (CNTs), those cylinders of pure carbon with properties ideal for a new generation of sensors, transistors, super-strong fabrics, and nanoscale devices? CNTs already are about 50,000 times narrower than the finest human hair.
There are good reasons for doing so, according to Alex Zettl and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. They report development of a method for controllably altering the diameter of individual CNTs in the Dec. 13 issue of the ACS's Nano Letters.
Zettl explains that CNTs' ability to conduct electricity and other electrical and mechanical properties depend heavily on their size. However, current methods for making CNTs cannot reliably control nanotube diameter, making it more difficult to fabricate devices from nanotubes.
"We have developed a method to shrink individual nanotubes to any desired diameter," the researchers report. "The process can be repeated in a highly controlled fashion, yielding a high-quality CNT of any preselected and precise diameter."
The method involves a high-temperature that shrinks regular-sized CNTs and reforms them into high-quality tubes of a smaller diameter.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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