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

Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells April 20th, 2018

New qubit now works without breaks: A universal design for superconducting qubits has been created April 19th, 2018

Observing biological nanotransporters: Chemistry April 19th, 2018

Salt boosts creation of 2-D materials: Rice University scientists show how salt lowers reaction temperatures to make novel materials April 18th, 2018

Individual impurity atoms detectable in graphene April 18th, 2018

Videos/Movies

Salt boosts creation of 2-D materials: Rice University scientists show how salt lowers reaction temperatures to make novel materials April 18th, 2018

Quantum shift shows itself in coupled light and matter: Rice University scientists corral, quantify subtle movement in condensed matter system April 16th, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells April 20th, 2018

Salt boosts creation of 2-D materials: Rice University scientists show how salt lowers reaction temperatures to make novel materials April 18th, 2018

Quantum shift shows itself in coupled light and matter: Rice University scientists corral, quantify subtle movement in condensed matter system April 16th, 2018

When superconductivity disappears in the core of a quantum tube: By replacing the electrons with ultra-cold atoms, a group of physicists has created a perfectly clean material, unveiling new states of matter at the quantum level April 16th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Plasmons triggered in nanotube quantum wells: Rice, Tokyo Metropolitan scientists create platform for unique near-infrared devices March 16th, 2018

Big steps toward control of production of tiny building blocks March 9th, 2018

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

Sensors

Salt boosts creation of 2-D materials: Rice University scientists show how salt lowers reaction temperatures to make novel materials April 18th, 2018

Doing the nano-shimmy: New device modulates light and amplifies tiny signals April 12th, 2018

Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Detect Molecular Biomarker for Osteoarthritis March 13th, 2018

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

Discoveries

Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells April 20th, 2018

New qubit now works without breaks: A universal design for superconducting qubits has been created April 19th, 2018

Observing biological nanotransporters: Chemistry April 19th, 2018

Salt boosts creation of 2-D materials: Rice University scientists show how salt lowers reaction temperatures to make novel materials April 18th, 2018

Announcements

Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells April 20th, 2018

New qubit now works without breaks: A universal design for superconducting qubits has been created April 19th, 2018

Observing biological nanotransporters: Chemistry April 19th, 2018

Salt boosts creation of 2-D materials: Rice University scientists show how salt lowers reaction temperatures to make novel materials April 18th, 2018

Military

Quantum shift shows itself in coupled light and matter: Rice University scientists corral, quantify subtle movement in condensed matter system April 16th, 2018

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in March 20th, 2018

Imaging technique pulls plasmon data together: Rice University scientists' hyperspectral method analyzes many plasmonic nanoparticles in an instant March 16th, 2018

Flat gallium joins roster of new 2-D materials: Rice University, Indian Institute of Science introduce gallenene March 12th, 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