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Home > News > With help of DNA, nanotubes may become a bigger force

August 4th, 2009

With help of DNA, nanotubes may become a bigger force

Abstract:
In his neatly ordered lab at DuPont, chemist Ming Zheng slides open a glass cabinet and removes a flask of soot that could have been swept from someone's fireplace.

"These are carbon nanotubes," he said, referring to the novel form of carbon discovered in the 1990s to much fanfare. These wonder materials promised new kinds of computer chips, batteries, sensors and other devices.

Nanotubes haven't lived up to the hype, but that may change after Zheng announced this month he and his colleagues had overcome a long-standing hurdle limiting their use.

The problem goes back to the soot.

It's all really a disorganized collection of invisibly small cylinders - each one a lattice of carbon atoms rolled up in a tube. Mixed up in that flask are hundreds of types with slightly different properties. Some conduct electricity, while others conduct light, for example.

With particles so small, you can't reach into the soot and pull out the type you want to use. Zheng found a way to essentially tag the different types of nanotubes with DNA, enabling them to be selected and used.

Source:
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