"This size dependence implies, however, that the physical dimensions must be exquisitely controlled in order to realize uniform and reproducible performance in devices. Our study directly addresses this issue for double-walled carbon nanotubes, an emerging nanomaterial with applications in information technology, biotechnology and alternative energy," said Hersam.
He collaborated with Alexander A. Green, a graduate student in materials science and engineering at Northwestern and lead author of the paper, titled "Processing and Properties of Highly Enriched Double-Walled Carbon Nanotubes."
Using the Northwestern method, carbon nanotubes first are encapsulated in water by soap-like molecules called surfactants. The surfactant-coated nanotubes then are sorted in density gradients that are spun at tens of thousands of rotations per minute in an ultracentrifuge. Each nanotube's diameter and electronic structure help determine the nanotube's buoyant density, which enables the method to separate DWNTs from the SWNTs and MWNTs.
The double-walled nanotubes, the researchers discovered, were approximately 44 percent longer than the single-walled nanotubes. This longer length of the DWNTs results in a factor of 2.4 improvement in the electrical conductivity of transparent conductors.
Double-walled nanotubes also enable improved spatial resolution and longer scanning lifetimes as tips for atomic force microscopes and are useful in field-effect transistors, biosensing and drug delivery.
|Contact: Megan Fellman|