Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Drawing a line, with carbon nanotubes --New low-cost, durable carbon nanotube sensors can be etched with mechanical pencils

MIT chemists designed a new type of pencil lead consisting of carbon nanotubes, allowing them to draw carbon nanotube sensors onto sheets of paper.
Photo: Jan Schnorr
MIT chemists designed a new type of pencil lead consisting of carbon nanotubes, allowing them to draw carbon nanotube sensors onto sheets of paper.

Photo: Jan Schnorr

Abstract:
Carbon nanotubes offer a powerful new way to detect harmful gases in the environment. However, the methods typically used to build carbon nanotube sensors are hazardous and not suited for large-scale production.

Drawing a line, with carbon nanotubes --New low-cost, durable carbon nanotube sensors can be etched with mechanical pencils

Cambridge, MA | Posted on October 9th, 2012

A new fabrication method created by MIT chemists — as simple as drawing a line on a sheet of paper — may overcome that obstacle. MIT postdoc Katherine Mirica has designed a new type of pencil lead in which graphite is replaced with a compressed powder of carbon nanotubes. The lead, which can be used with a regular mechanical pencil, can inscribe sensors on any paper surface.

The sensor, described in the journal Angewandte Chemie, detects minute amounts of ammonia gas, an industrial hazard. Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry and leader of the research team, says the sensors could be adapted to detect nearly any type of gas.

"The beauty of this is we can start doing all sorts of chemically specific functionalized materials," Swager says. "We think we can make sensors for almost anything that's volatile."

Other authors of the paper are graduate student Jonathan Weis and postdocs Jan Schnorr and Birgit Esser.

Pencil it in

Carbon nanotubes are sheets of carbon atoms rolled into cylinders that allow electrons to flow without hindrance. Such materials have been shown to be effective sensors for many gases, which bind to the nanotubes and impede electron flow. However, creating these sensors requires dissolving nanotubes in a solvent such as dichlorobenzene, using a process that can be hazardous and unreliable.

Swager and Mirica set out to create a solvent-free fabrication method based on paper. Inspired by pencils on her desk, Mirica had the idea to compress carbon nanotubes into a graphite-like material that could substitute for pencil lead.

To create sensors using their pencil, the researchers draw a line of carbon nanotubes on a sheet of paper imprinted with small electrodes made of gold. They then apply an electrical current and measure the current as it flows through the carbon nanotube strip, which acts as a resistor. If the current is altered, it means gas has bound to the carbon nanotubes.

The researchers tested their device on several different types of paper, and found that the best response came with sensors drawn on smoother papers. They also found that the sensors give consistent results even when the marks aren't uniform.

Two major advantages of the technique are that it is inexpensive and the "pencil lead" is extremely stable, Swager says. "You can't imagine a more stable formulation. The molecules are immobilized," he says.

Sensors for any gas

In this study, the researchers focused on pure carbon nanotubes, but they are now working on tailoring the sensors to detect a wide range of gases. Selectivity can be altered by adding metal atoms to the nanotube walls, or by wrapping polymers or other materials around the tubes.

One gas the researchers are particularly interested in is ethylene, which would be useful for monitoring the ripeness of fruit as it is shipped and stored. The team is also pursuing sensors for sulfur compounds, which might prove helpful for detecting natural gas leaks.

The research was funded by the Army Research Office through MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies and a National Institutes of Health fellowship to Mirica.

Written by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Caroline McCall
MIT News Office

T: 617-253-1682

Copyright © MIT

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

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

In IEDM 2016 Keynote, Leti CEO Says ‘Hyperconnectivity’, Human-focused Research and the IOT Promise Profound, Positive Changes December 7th, 2016

Videos/Movies

ANU invention to inspire new night-vision specs December 7th, 2016

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

2-D material a brittle surprise: Rice University researchers finds molybdenum diselenide not as strong as they thought November 14th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Cutting-edge nanotechnologies are breaking into industries November 18th, 2016

Hybrid nanostructures hold hydrogen well: Rice University scientists say boron nitride-graphene hybrid may be right for next-gen green cars October 25th, 2016

Sensors

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Tip-assisted chemistry enables chemical reactions at femtoliter scale November 16th, 2016

'Back to the Future' inspires solar nanotech-powered clothing November 15th, 2016

Discoveries

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Announcements

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Military

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

ANU invention to inspire new night-vision specs December 7th, 2016

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

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