Carbon nanotubes exist, and they can be created in the lab. However, it has taken scientists decades to produce them. Until now, mass producing of carbon nanotubes has been out of the question.
Technology might have evolved, but where carbon nanotubes were are concerned, it hasn’t been useful in finding a way to accelerate production. A carbon nanotube is 10,000 thinner than a human hair. Many attempts to mass produce it resulted in twisted or clumped tubes.
A Weird Way to Use Carbon Nanotubes
A team of researchers at the Northwestern University in the US found a new way to make carbon nanotubes. Moreover, they have a new weird idea on how to use them.
The authors of the study are Kevin Chiou, Segi Byun, Jaemyung Kim, and Jiaxing Huang. They have published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The study shows a new way to mass produce nanotubes by using a common chemical that was used in household cleaners. Researchers used cresol in their experiment and found that there is no need to use harsh chemical reactions to modify the nanotubes.
Nanotubes Act Like Polymers
Jiaxing Huang and his team found that cresol caused disperse carbon nanotubes to concentrate into a thick paste. The density kept increasing until the nanotubes became a gel that was similar to a dough easy to knead into shapes and molds.
Other ways of solving the clumping issue were to coat nanotubes in chemicals, but the process altered the abilities (like conductibility or resistance).
However, using cresol, researchers are now able to mass produce carbon nanotubes. Even the team is amazed to see the effect of cresol on the nanotubes. Jiaxing added:
“Essentially, this solvent system now makes nanotubes behave just like polymers. It is really exciting to see cresol-based solvents make once hard-to-process carbon nanotubes as usable as common plastics.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere