Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Controlling chemistry improves potential of carbon nanotubes

Left: The Billups-Birch alkylcarboxylation reaction allows functional groups to propagate down the CNT from points of pre-existing defects. Right: Electron microscopy shows “banded” CNTs with distinct functionalized and intact regions along their lengths. Photo credits: Nature Communications.
Left: The Billups-Birch alkylcarboxylation reaction allows functional groups to propagate down the CNT from points of pre-existing defects. Right: Electron microscopy shows “banded” CNTs with distinct functionalized and intact regions along their lengths. Photo credits: Nature Communications.

Abstract:
A team of University of Maryland nanotechnology researchers has solved one of the most vexing challenges hindering the use of carbon nanomaterials in increasing electrical energy storage efficiency in batteries or enhancing the fluorescence sensing capabilities of biosensors. The findings are published in the July 12 issue of Nature Communications.

Controlling chemistry improves potential of carbon nanotubes

College Park, MD | Posted on July 12th, 2011

The breakthrough research was led by Chemistry Assistant Professor YuHuang Wang and conducted in the Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage center (an Energy Frontier Research Center of the Department of Energy), Northwestern University, and the Maryland NanoCenter.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have enormous potential. They are some of the most conductive structures ever made—highly efficient electrodes with enormous surface area. To take full advantage of these properties, however, CNTs must be soluble—that is, have the ability to be dispersed in a liquid environment or to evenly coat a solid composite material. Unfortunately, in their raw state CNTs are insoluble; they clump together rather than disperse.

For more than a decade, researchers have been developing new chemical processes to address this challenge. One idea has been to create permanent defects on the surfaces of CNTs and "functionalize" them so they are soluble. Unfortunately, this also has the undesired side effect of quickly destroying the CNTs' electrical and optical properties.

Wang and his team have developed a new functionalization process for CNTs that delivers solubility and preserves electrical and optical properties. They purposefully functionalize defects on the tubes in useful—not random—places, creating strategic "functional groups." These carefully placed molecular groups allow CNTs to readily disperse while retaining their optical properties and ability to conduct electric current in large regions along the tube.

The challenge has been to control the chemical reactions that produce the functional groups on the CNTs. By using a chemical process called Billups-Birch reductive alkylcarboxylation, Wang's team found they could progressively add new functional groups to the CNT wall in a controlled way without introducing unintended new defects.

When the CNTs are immersed in a chemical solution for a specific length of time, the functionalized groups on the nanotubes lengthen by a predictable amount. Each time the process is repeated, or as the time in the solution increases, the sections grow longer. When the CNTs are viewed under a special, high magnification electron microscope, it is evident that the functionalization has progressed lengthwise along the tube.

The propagation can initiate from either naturally occurring or intentionally introduced defects. Because the propagation mechanism confines the reaction and strategically controls where the functional groups grow, Wang's team can produce clustered functional groups at a controlled, constant propagation rate. It is the first clearly established wet chemistry process that does so.

The breakthrough makes it possible to create new functional structures such as "banded" nanotubes with alternating segments of functionalized and intact regions. The functionalized regions keep the CNTs from clumping, making them among the most water-soluble CNTs known. At the same time, the bands of intact, non-functionalized regions of the CNTs allow electrical and optical properties to be retained.

"This is important for the future use of these materials in batteries and solar cells where efficient charge collection and transport are sought," Wang explains. "These CNTs also could be used as highly sensitive biochemical sensors because of their sharp optical absorption and long-lived fluorescence in the near infrared regions where tissues are nearly optically transparent."

"This is a major step towards building the controlled nanostructures needed to understand electrochemical science and its value for energy solutions," says University of Maryland NanoCenter Director, Professor Gary Rubloff (MSE/ISR), a collaborator on the project.

The research team also includes theoretical chemist Professor George Schatz of Northwestern University, postdoctoral associates and graduate students Shunliu Deng, Yin Zhang, and Alexandra Brozena, who are equal contribution first authors, as well as Maricris Mayes, Parag Banerjee and Maryland NanoCenter staff member Wen-An Chiou.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Maryland NanoCenter
Kim Engineering Building
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Request Info

Copyright © University of Maryland

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

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Stiffness matters February 23rd, 2018

Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Berkeley Lab researchers generate first images of 129 DNA structures February 22nd, 2018

'Memtransistor' brings world closer to brain-like computing: Combined memristor and transistor can process information and store memory with one device February 22nd, 2018

Imaging

Histology in 3-D: New staining method enables Nano-CT imaging of tissue samples February 22nd, 2018

Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Berkeley Lab researchers generate first images of 129 DNA structures February 22nd, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Nanotube fibers in a jiffy: Rice University lab makes short nanotube samples by hand to dramatically cut production time January 11th, 2018

Touchy nanotubes work better when clean: Rice, Swansea scientists show that decontaminating nanotubes can simplify nanoscale devices January 4th, 2018

Paving the way for a non-electric battery to store solar energy: UMass Amherst scientists say a polymer chain organized like a string of Christmas lights assists energy storage December 22nd, 2017

Nanotubes go with the flow to penetrate brain tissue: Rice University scientists, engineers develop microfluidic devices, microelectrodes for gentle implantation December 19th, 2017

Sensors

Graphene on toast, anyone? Rice University scientists create patterned graphene onto food, paper, cloth, cardboard February 13th, 2018

Leti Chief Scientist Barbara De Salvo Will Help Kick Off ISSCC 2018 with Opening-Day Keynote: In Addition, Leti Scientists Will Present and Demo New Technology for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting February 8th, 2018

Engineers develop flexible, water-repellent graphene circuits for washable electronics January 24th, 2018

Leti to Demo New Curving Technology at Photonics West that Improves Performance of Optical Components January 18th, 2018

Discoveries

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Histology in 3-D: New staining method enables Nano-CT imaging of tissue samples February 22nd, 2018

Developing reliable quantum computers February 22nd, 2018

Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Berkeley Lab researchers generate first images of 129 DNA structures February 22nd, 2018

Announcements

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Stiffness matters February 23rd, 2018

Histology in 3-D: New staining method enables Nano-CT imaging of tissue samples February 22nd, 2018

Developing reliable quantum computers February 22nd, 2018

Energy

Round-the-clock power from smart bowties February 5th, 2018

Silk fibers could be high-tech ‘natural metamaterials’ January 31st, 2018

A simple new approach to plastic solar cells: Osaka University researchers intelligently design new highly efficient organic solar cells based on amorphous electronic materials with potential for easy printing January 28th, 2018

Nature paper by Schlumberger researchers used photothermal based nanoscale IR spectroscopy to analyze heterogeneous process of petroleum generation January 23rd, 2018

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Leti Chief Scientist Barbara De Salvo Will Help Kick Off ISSCC 2018 with Opening-Day Keynote: In Addition, Leti Scientists Will Present and Demo New Technology for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting February 8th, 2018

Round-the-clock power from smart bowties February 5th, 2018

NTU scientists create customizable, fabric-like power source for wearable electronics January 30th, 2018

Ultra-thin memory storage device paves way for more powerful computing January 17th, 2018

Research partnerships

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality February 20th, 2018

Rutgers-Led Innovation Could Spur Faster, Cheaper, Nano-Based Manufacturing: Scalable and cost-effective manufacturing of thin film devices February 14th, 2018

Understanding brain functions using upconversion nanoparticles: Researchers can now send light deep into the brain to study neural activities February 14th, 2018

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project