CAU research team develops new composite material made of carbon nanotubes
Extremely lightweight, electrically highly conductive, and more stable than steel: due to their unique properties, carbon nanotubes would be ideal for numerous applications, from ultra-lightweight batteries to high-performance plastics, right through to medical implants. However, to date it has been difficult for science and industry to transfer the extraordinary characteristics at the nano-scale into a functional industrial application. The carbon nanotubes either cannot be combined adequately with other materials, or if they can be combined, they then lose their beneficial properties. Scientists from the Functional Nanomaterials working group at Kiel University (CAU) and the University of Trento have now developed an alternative method, with which the tiny tubes can be combined with other materials, so that they retain their characteristic properties. As such, they “felt” the thread-like tubes into a stable 3D network that is able to withstand extreme forces. The research results have now been published in the renowned journal Nature Communications.
A difficult candidate
Industry and science have been intensively researching the significantly less than one hundred nanometre wide carbon tubes (carbon nanotubes, CNTs), in order to make use of the extraordinary properties of rolled graphene. Yet much still remains just theory. “Although carbon nanotubes are flexible like fibre strands, they are also very sensitive to changes,” explained Professor Rainer Adelung, head of the Functional Nanomaterials working group at the CAU. “With previous attempts to chemically connect them with other materials, their molecular structure also changed. This, however, made their properties deteriorate – mostly drastically.”
In contrast, the approach of the research team from Kiel and Trento is based on a simple wet chemical infiltration process. The CNTs are mixed with water and dripped into an extremely porous ceramic material made of zinc oxide, which absorbs the liquid like a sponge. The dripped thread-like CNTs attach themselves to the ceramic scaffolding, and automatically form a stable layer together, similar to a felt. The ceramic scaffolding is coated with nanotubes, so to speak. This has fascinating effects, both for the scaffolding as well as for the coating of nanotubes.
The 360° video illustrates how CNT networks are created:
Porous ceramics are produced at high temperatures, as shown here by the coalescence of the four-pronged particles, which join together like fine snowflakes that form a closed, but light blanket of snow. The interconnected particles are coated with a network of carbon tubes (represented as a transparent shell) and then etched out.
This multimedia simulation about the scientific work from the group pf Professor Rainer Adelung, “Functional Nanomaterials” at Kiel University, was developed as part of a cooperation project between the Kiel Science Outreach Campus and the Mediadome at the Zentrum für Kultur- und Wissenschaftskommunikation (Centre for Culture and Science Communication, ZKW) of Kiel University of Applied Sciences.
via Eduard Thomas, Kiel University of Applied Sciences.
Following the principle of bamboo buildings
On the one hand, the stability of the ceramic scaffold increases so massively that it can bear 100,000 times its own weight. “With the CNT coating, the ceramic material can hold around 7.5kg, and without it just 50g – as if we had fitted it with a close-fitting pullover made of carbon nanotubes, which provide mechanical support,” summarised first author Fabian Schütt. “The pressure on the material is absorbed by the tensile strength of the CNT felt. Compressive forces are transformed into tensile forces.”
The principle behind this is comparable with bamboo buildings, such as those widespread in Asia. Here, bamboo stems are bound so tightly with a simple rope that the lightweight material can form extremely stable scaffolding, and even entire buildings. “We do the same at the nano-scale with the CNT threads, which wrap themselves around the ceramic material – only much, much smaller,” said Helge Krüger, co-author of the publication.
Using tiny carbon tubes to create high-performance plastics
The materials scientists were able to demonstrate another major advantage of their process. In a second step, they dissolved the ceramic scaffolding by using a chemical etching process. All that remains is a fine 3D network of tubes, each of which consists of a layer of tiny CNT tubes. In this way, the researchers were able to greatly increase the felt surface, and thus create more opportunities for reactions. “We basically pack the surface of an entire beach volleyball field into a one centimetre cube,” explained Schütt. The huge hollow spaces inside the three-dimensional structure can then be filled with a polymer. As such, CNTs can be connected mechanically with plastics, without their molecular structure – and thus their properties – being modified. “We can specifically arrange the CNTs and manufacture an electrically conductive composite material. To do so only requires a fraction of the usual quantity of CNTs, in order to achieve the same conductivity,” said Schütt.
Simple procedure for numerous applications
Applications for use range from battery and filter technology as a filling material for conductive plastics, implants for regenerative medicine, right through to sensors and electronic components at the nano-scale. The good electrical conductivity of the tear-resistant material could in future also be interesting for flexible electronics applications, in functional clothing or in the field of medical technology, for example. “Creating a plastic which, for example, stimulates bone or heart cells to grow is conceivable,” said Adelung. Due to its simplicity, the scientists agree that the process could also be transferred to network structures made of other nanomaterials – which will further expand the range of possible applications.
Learn more: Fine felted nanotubes
The Latest on: Carbon nanotube networks
- Turning fish waste into quality carbon-based nanomaterialon August 1, 2022 at 8:54 am
Carbon nano-onions (CNOs), a form of carbon nanostructure with excellent electrical and thermal conductivities, find several applications in biomedicine, bioimaging, energy conversion, and electronics ...
- Carbon Nanotube and Graphene Device Physicson August 1, 2022 at 5:34 am
Explaining the properties and performance of practical nanotube devices and related applications, this is the first introductory textbook on the subject. All the fundamental concepts are introduced, ...
- Twin physically unclonable functions (PUFs) based on carbon nanotube arrays to enhance the security of communicationson July 28, 2022 at 8:30 am
As the amount of data stored in devices and shared over the internet continuously increases, computer scientists worldwide are trying to devise new approaches to secure communications and protect ...
- Tango Networks Solution Cuts Business Carbon Footprint, Eliminates Redundant phones with Business BYODon July 28, 2022 at 8:12 am
Tango Networks today announced that its Mobile-X ™ Extend service enables companies to cut their carbon footprints by consolidating business communications on smartphones and eliminating redundant ...
- Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Array Market Size, Scope and Forecast Growth, New Updates, Trends, business Expansion, and market 2028on July 26, 2022 at 11:21 am
Array Market report 2028, discusses various factors driving or restraining the market, which will help the future market to grow with promising CAGR. The Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Array Market Research ...
- The Week In Technology, July 25-29, 2022on July 25, 2022 at 12:37 am
Nanotube Anti-Icing Tested Embraer and Collins Aerospace have flight-tested carbon-nanotube electrothermal ice-protection technology. The system was installed on the vertical stabilizer of an ...
- Rewriting the history of K-carbon fiber manufacturing with carbon nanotubeson July 19, 2022 at 5:00 pm
Developed an ultra-high-strength and ultra-high-modulus carbon nanotube fiber material through a joint research project.
- Carbon Nanotube Biosensors Help Detect Alzheimer's Diseaseon July 18, 2022 at 9:47 am
Application of Carbon Nanotube Network Films Toward Alzheimer’s Disease Detection Alzheimer’s disease is the common cause of dementia and leads to progressive cognitive decline. Moreover, Alzheimer’s ...
- Carbon Nanotube-Based Fabric Could Double as Charger for Electronicson July 17, 2022 at 4:59 pm
University of Cincinnati (UC) graduate student Mark Haase stretches carbon nanotube fiber grown in the university’s Nanoworld Lab. Like spider silk, it's stretchy and strong. Researchers are using the ...
- Nanotube-embedded coating detects threats from wear and tear in large structureson July 13, 2022 at 5:00 pm
Independently in 2004, Nagarajaiah proposed and developed a non-contact optical strain sensor using carbon nanotube films bonded to structural members with epoxy and probed with Raman spectroscopy.
via Google News and Bing News