Kono's lab ultimately determined that excitons are the source of color in batches of pure armchair nanotubes suspended in solution.
The results seem counterintuitive, Kono said, because excitons are characteristic of semiconductors, not metals. Kono is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of physics and astronomy.
While armchair nanotubes don't have band gaps, they do have a unique electronic structure that favors particular wavelengths for light absorption, he said.
"In armchair nanotubes, the conduction and valence bands touch each other," Kono said. "The one-dimensionality, combined with its unique energy dispersion, makes it a metal. But the bands develop what's called a van Hove singularity," which appears as a peak in the density of states in a one-dimensional solid. "So there are lots of electronic states concentrated around this singularity."
Exciton resonance tends to occur around these singularities when hit with light, and the stronger the resonance, the more distinguished the color. "It's an unusual quality of these particular one-dimensional materials that these excitons can actually exist," Hroz said. "In most metals, that's not possible; there's not enough Coulomb interaction between the electron and the hole for an exciton to be stable."
The new paper follows on the heels of work by Kono and his team to create batches of pure single-walled carbon nanotubes through ultracentrifugation. In that process, nanotubes were spun in a mix of solutions with different densities up to 250,000 times the force of gravity. The tubes naturally gravitated toward separated solutions that matched their own densities to create a colorful "nano parfait."
As a byproduct of their current work, the researchers proved their ability to produce purified armchair nanotubes from a variety of synthesis techniques. They now hope to extend their investigation of the optical
|Contact: David Ruth|