Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > A Stellar, Metal-Free Way to Make Carbon Nanotubes

Nanotubes can grow on graphite (top) in an unruly mass (middle) according to "space's recipe." The overlapping segments on a single nanotube (bottom) are a telltale sign of the cup-stacked structure. (Image on bottom reproduced from Astrophysical Journal Letters.) Image credit: Yuki Kimura, Tohoku University
Nanotubes can grow on graphite (top) in an unruly mass (middle) according to "space's recipe." The overlapping segments on a single nanotube (bottom) are a telltale sign of the cup-stacked structure. (Image on bottom reproduced from Astrophysical Journal Letters.) Image credit: Yuki Kimura, Tohoku University

Abstract:
Space apparently has its own recipe for making carbon nanotubes, one of the most intriguing contributions of nanotechnology here on Earth, and metals are conspicuously missing from the list of ingredients.

A Stellar, Metal-Free Way to Make Carbon Nanotubes

Washington, DC | Posted on February 23rd, 2010

The finding is the surprising by-product of lab experiments designed by Joseph Nuth at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. and his colleagues to address the astronomical question of how carbon gets recycled in the regions of space that spawn stars and planets. The work also could help researchers understand puzzling observations about some supernovas.

In a recent paper in Astrophysical Journal Letters, Nuth's team describes the modest chemical reaction. Unlike current methods for producing carbon nanotubes—tiny yet strong structures with a range of applications in electronics and, ultimately, perhaps even medicine—the new approach does not need the aid of a metal catalyst. "Instead, nanotubes were produced when graphite dust particles were exposed to a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases," explains Nuth.

"I am amazed at the implications of this paper, not only for astrophysics but also for materials science," says Dick Zare, the chair of the chemistry department at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. "Could Nature know a new chemistry for making carbon nanotubes that we have yet to discover?"

One indication of that possibility came in 2008, when the long, thin carbon structures known as graphite whiskers—essentially, bigger cousins of carbon nanotubes—were identified in three meteorites. That finding offered the tantalizing prospect that a haze of graphite whiskers in space could explain why some supernovas appear dimmer, and therefore farther away, than they should be, according to current models. Yet, "very little is known about graphite whisker formation, and so it is difficult to adequately interpret their discovery," says Marc Fries of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Fries and Andrew Steele at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, reported the meteorite findings.

Now, the experiments by Nuth's team suggest a possible route for forming such structures. This "is exactly the sort of fundamental approach needed for a meaningful understanding of what graphite whiskers are and what their presence means in the larger context of solar system formation and astronomical observations," Fries explains.

Nuth's approach is a variation of a well-established way to produce gasoline or other liquid fuels from coal. It's known as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, and researchers suspect that it could have produced at least some of the simple carbon-based compounds in the early solar system. Nuth proposes that the nanotubes yielded by such reactions could be the key to the recycling of the carbon that gets released when carbon-rich grains are destroyed by supernova explosions.

The structure of the carbon nanotubes produced in these experiments was determined by Yuki Kimura, a materials scientist at Tohoku University, Japan, who examined the samples under a powerful transmission electron microscope. He saw particles on which the original smooth graphite gradually morphed into an unstructured region and finally to an area rich in tangled hair-like masses. A closer look with an even more powerful microscope showed that these tendrils were in fact cup-stacked carbon nanotubes, which resemble a stack of Styrofoam cups with the bottoms cut out.

These observations surprised Kimura because carbon nanotubes are typically grown with platinum or another metal as a catalyst, yet Nuth's reaction had used no metals. Kimura checked for contamination but "did not find the presence of metallic particles accompanying the nanotube in the sample," he says.

If further testing indicates that the new method is suitable for materials-science applications, it could supplement, or even replace, the familiar way of making nanotubes, explains Kimura. That possibility "is most exciting and invites yet more study," says Zare.

The findings also might open a new realm of investigation in astronomy, because "we can take the whiskers produced by Joe and interrogate their properties," says Steele.

In particular, researchers can evaluate whether graphite whiskers absorb light, he notes. A positive result would lend credence to the proposition that the presence of these molecules in space affects the observations of some supernovas. The ability to test this hypothesis could start a reaction of its own.

Elizabeth Zubritsky
Goddard Space Flight Center

####

About NASA
NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

To do that, thousands of people have been working around the world -- and off of it -- for 50 years, trying to answer some basic questions. What's out there in space? How do we get there? What will we find? What can we learn there, or learn just by trying to get there, that will make life better here on Earth?

For more information, please click here

Copyright © NASA

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

New Hopes for Treatment of Intestine Cancer by Edible Nanodrug March 2nd, 2015

Imec, Holst Centre and Renesas Present World’s Lowest Power 2.4GHz Radio Chip for Bluetooth Low Energy March 1st, 2015

Imec, Murata, and Huawei Introduce Breakthrough Solution for TX-to-RX Isolation in Reconfigurable, Multiband Front-End Modules for Mobile Phones: Electrical-Balance Duplexers Pave the Way to Integrated Solution for TX-to-RX Isolation March 1st, 2015

Imec Demonstrates Compact Wavelength-Division Multiplexing CMOS Silicon Photonics Transceiver March 1st, 2015

Chip Technology

onic Present breakthrough in CMOS-based Transceivers for mm-Wave Radar Systems March 1st, 2015

New nanowire structure absorbs light efficiently: Dual-type nanowire arrays can be used in applications such as LEDs and solar cells February 25th, 2015

SUNY Poly CNSE Researchers and Corporate Partners to Present Forty Papers at Globally Recognized Lithography Conference: SUNY Poly CNSE Research Group Awarded Both ‘Best Research Paper’ and ‘Best Research Poster’ at SPIE Advanced Lithography 2015 forum February 25th, 2015

Ultra-thin nanowires can trap electron 'twisters' that disrupt superconductors February 24th, 2015

Nanotubes/Buckyballs

Chromium-Centered Cycloparaphenylene Rings as New Tools for Making Functionalized Nanocarbons February 24th, 2015

Building tailor-made DNA nanotubes step by step: New, block-by-block assembly method could pave way for applications in opto-electronics, drug delivery February 23rd, 2015

Half spheres for molecular circuits: Corannulene shows promising electronic properties February 17th, 2015

SouthWest Nanotechnologies CEO Dave Arthur Appointed to the Board of Affiliates of Rice University Professional Science Master’s Program February 13th, 2015

Nanomedicine

New Hopes for Treatment of Intestine Cancer by Edible Nanodrug March 2nd, 2015

Graphene Shows Promise In Eradication Of Stem Cancer Cells March 1st, 2015

Novel Method to Determine Optical Purity of Drug Components March 1st, 2015

Untangling DNA with a droplet of water, a pipet and a polymer: With the 'rolling droplet technique,' a DNA-injected water droplet rolls like a ball over a platelet, sticking the DNA to the plate surface February 27th, 2015

Nanoelectronics

New nanowire structure absorbs light efficiently: Dual-type nanowire arrays can be used in applications such as LEDs and solar cells February 25th, 2015

Ultra-thin nanowires can trap electron 'twisters' that disrupt superconductors February 24th, 2015

Improved fire detection with new ultra-sensitive, ultraviolet light sensor February 17th, 2015

Nanotechnology facility planned in Lund, Sweden: A production facility for start-ups in the field of nanotechnology may be built in the Science Village in Lund, a world-class research and innovation village that is also home to ESS, the European Spallation Source February 15th, 2015

Announcements

New Hopes for Treatment of Intestine Cancer by Edible Nanodrug March 2nd, 2015

Imec Demonstrates Compact Wavelength-Division Multiplexing CMOS Silicon Photonics Transceiver March 1st, 2015

onic Present breakthrough in CMOS-based Transceivers for mm-Wave Radar Systems March 1st, 2015

Graphene Shows Promise In Eradication Of Stem Cancer Cells March 1st, 2015

Aerospace/Space

Launch of the Alliance for Space Development March 1st, 2015

National Space Society and Space Frontier Foundation announce the formation of the Alliance for Space Development February 25th, 2015

Rosetta Team Wins the National Space Society's Science and Engineering Space Pioneer Award February 23rd, 2015

A new spin on spintronics: Michigan team tests radiation-resistant spintronic material, possibly enabling electronic devices that will work in harsh environments February 17th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE