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'Cloning' could make structurally pure nanotubes for nanoelectronics
Date:11/15/2012

echnique for extracting nanotubes of a specific twist from a solution by using specially tailored DNA molecules that bind to one particular nanotube chirality.** The DNA trick is very selective, but unfortunately only works well with fairly short pieces of nanotube.

"That approach laid the foundation for this work," says Zheng. "We are using the short purified nanotubes to grow bigger structures of the same kind. We call it 'cloning', like cloning an organism from its DNA and a single cell, but in this case, we use a purified nanotube as a seed."

Small segments of nanotubes of identical chirality, extracted using the DNA technique, were put in a high-temperature reaction chamber at USC with methane gas, which breaks down in the heat to smaller carbon molecules that attach themselves to the ends of the nanotubes, gradually building them upand preserving their structural chirality. "A bit like building a skyscraper," Zheng observes, though in these early experiments, the tubes are laying on a substrate.

"I think the most important thing this work shows is that from a chemistry point of view, it's entirely possible to grow nanotubes without a catalyst, and even maintain control of the structure," says Zheng, "It's a different approach, to do the separation first to obtain the 'seeds' and then do the synthesis to grow the desired nanotubes."


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Contact: Michael Baum
michael.baum@nist.gov
301-975-2763
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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