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Splitsville for boron nitride nanotubes
Date:6/28/2011

ve implications for applications in technologies that include spintronics and optoelectronics," Zettl says. "However, the facile, scalable synthesis of high quality boron nitride nanoribbons has been a significant challenge."

Zettl and members of his research group met this challenge using the chemical process known as "intercalation," whereby atoms or molecules of one type are inserted between atoms and molecules of another type. James Tour at Rice University and his research group had demonstrated that the intercalation of potassium atoms into carbon nanotubes promotes a longitudinal splitting of the tubes. This prompted Zettl and Tour to collaborate on a study that used the same approach on boron nitride nanotubes, which are very similar in structure to nanotubes made from carbon.

Zettl and Tour reported the results of this study in the journal Nano Letters. The paper was titled "Longitudinal Splitting of Boron Nitride Nanotubes for the Facile Synthesis of High Quality Boron Nitride Nanoribbons." Co-authoring the paper were Kris Erickson, Ashley Gibb, Michael Rousseas and Nasim Alem, who are all members of Zettl's research group, and Alexander Sinitskii, a member of Tour's research group.

"The likely mechanism for the splitting of both carbon and boron nitride nanotubes is that potassium islands grow from an initial starting point of intercalation," Zettl says. "This island growth continues until enough circumferential strain results in a breakage of the chemical bonds of the intercalated nanotube. The potassium then begins bonding to the bare ribbon edge, inducing further splitting."

This synthesis technique yields boron nitride nanoribbons of uniform widths that can be as narrow as 20 nanometers. The ribbons are also at least one micron in length, with minimal defects within the plane or along the edges. Zettl says the high quality of the edges points to the splitting process being orderly rather than random. This o
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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