Researchers discover that cresols disperse carbon nanotubes at unprecedentedly high concentrations
Northwestern University’s Jiaxing Huang is ready to reignite carbon nanotube research. And he’s doing so with a common chemical that was once used in household cleaners.
By using an inexpensive, already mass produced, simple solvent called cresol, Huang has discovered a way to make disperse carbon nanotubes at unprecedentedly high concentrations without the need for additives or harsh chemical reactions to modify the nanotubes. In a surprising twist, Huang also found that as the nanotubes’ concentrations increase, the material transitions from a dilute dispersion to a thick paste, then a free-standing gel and finally a kneadable dough that can be shaped and molded.
The study was published online on May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Because of their exceptional mechanical, thermal and electrical properties, carbon nanotubes have attracted a lot of attention for a number of applications,” said Huang, professor of materials science and engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. “But after decades of research and development, some of the excitement has faded.”
The reason? Carbon nanotubes are notoriously tricky to process — especially in large quantities. About 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, the wiry, tube-shaped structures are said to be stronger than steel and conduct heat and electricity far better than copper. But when mass produced — usually in the form of powders — the tubes twist and clump together. This complication is a major barrier to the material’s widespread applications.
“Aggregated tubes are hard to disperse in solvents,” Huang said. “And if you cannot get a good dispersion, then you won’t be able to make high-quality nanotube thin films that many applications rely on.”
In order to bypass this problem, previous researchers used additives to coat the nanotubes, which chemically altered their surfaces and forced them to separate. Although these methods do work, they leave behind residues or alter the nanotubes’ surface structures, which can blunt their desirable properties.
By contrast, Huang’s team found that cresol does not deteriorate carbon nanotubes’ surface functions. And, after separating the entangled tubes, researchers can simply remove the chemical by washing it off or heating it until it evaporates.
Finding unexpected kneads
After unlocking a new way to make carbon nanotubes in higher and higher concentrations, Huang and his team discovered new forms of the material. As the concentration of carbon nanotubes increases, the material transitions from a dilute dispersion to a spreadable paste to a free-standing gel and finally to a kneadable dough. These various forms can be molded, reshaped or used as conductive ink for 3D printing.
“The dough state of nanotubes is fascinating,” said Kevin Chiou, a graduate student in Huang’s laboratory and first author of the paper. “It can be readily shaped and molded into arbitrary structures just like playdough.”
“Essentially, this solvent system now makes nanotubes behave just like polymers,” Huang said. “It is really exciting to see cresol-based solvents make once hard-to-process carbon nanotubes as usable as common plastics.”
The Latest on: Carbon nanotubes
[google_news title=”” keyword=”carbon nanotubes” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Carbon nanotubes
- Researchers discover way to bind nanotubes to metalson February 29, 2024 at 8:45 am
Carbon nanotubes have shown promise for everything from microelectronics to aviation to energy storage. Researchers think this material might one day fulfill the science fiction dream of creating an ...
- Huntsman to showcase sustainability through advanced chemistry at JEC World 2024on February 29, 2024 at 6:47 am
ARALDITE® Mass Balance Concept (MBC), low carbon footprint, high performance resins: ARALDITE® MBC resins represent a breakthrough portfolio of sustainable resins. These resins, while technically ...
- Chiral Powers Next-Generation Electronics With Nanomaterials as It Raises $3.8mon February 29, 2024 at 2:29 am
For this reason, the industry has been investing heavily in nanomaterials like carbon nanotube, graphene and TMDs, which are expected to enable chips with unprecedented functionality. However, making ...
- Nemo Finds Breakthrough Dispersion Technology to Navigate Nano Challengeon February 28, 2024 at 7:16 am
NemoBLEND masterbatches impart plastics with remarkable electrical conductivity and electromagnetic shielding properties.
- Catalyst combines vanadium-based components and nitrogen-doped biomass carbon for pollutant removalon February 26, 2024 at 12:32 pm
Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans are dangerous pollutants due to their carcinogenicity and persistence in the environment. Traditional catalytic oxidation methods for their removal ...
- Carbon nanotubes make optical sensor flexible and ultrathinon February 23, 2024 at 6:39 am
A flexible, ultrathin optical sensor that uses carbon nanotubes to convert light into electrical signals has been unveiled by Rei Kawabata and colleagues. The team at Japan’s Osaka University says ...
- Cleaning or desalinating water quickly: Looking deep into smallest poreson February 20, 2024 at 4:00 pm
Membranes of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (VaCNT) can be used to clean or desalinate water at high flow rate and low pressure. Recently, researchers carried out steroid hormone adsorption ...
- From Sci-Fi to Reality: Scientists Develop Unbreakable, Bendable Optical Sensoron February 20, 2024 at 3:05 pm
Researchers at Osaka University have created a soft, pliable, and wireless optical sensor using carbon nanotubes and organic transistors on an ultra-thin polymer film. This innovation is poised to ...
- Carbon Nanotubes Market Projected to Hit USD 16.8 Billion at a 13.5% CAGR by 2030 - Report by MarketDigitson February 20, 2024 at 7:40 am
Carbon nanotubes are promising replacement for silicon transistors due to their high carrier mobility. The demand for CNTs is on a significant rise in the aerospace & defense industry, owing to their ...
via Bing News