Conductive Carbon Nanotubes Synthesized By Scientists May Hold The Key To Novel Application Of Nanotechnology In Electronics And Medicine

First Posted: Apr 24, 2017 06:10 AM EDT

Scientists have successfully developed a modified carbon nanotube that holds the strength of steel and conducts electricity like copper wires. The amalgamation of these two properties in carbon nanotubes opened up opportunities for the application of nanotechnology in the advent of novel nanoscale products like smart skins, sensors and flexible electronics.

Carbon Nanotubes: The "Wonder Material"

Carbon nanotubes are nanoscale cylindrical structures made from graphene sheets. Their diameter ranges from 1 nanometer to 10 nanometers, which is around 1,000 times less than the diameter of a single human hair.

These nanotubes were developed toward the end of the 20th century. Scientists refer to it as the "wonder material" that possesses the capability of revolutionizing the extant methods of development and application of nanotechnology-based methods and tools.

On the contrary, though these nanotubes are impeccably strong, upscaling their properties especially for the development of fabrics and films was restricted due to difficulty in handling. Furthermore, its unpredictable geometry made it difficult to weave it into a specified patterns, IndiaToday reported.

Scientists proposed that the discrepancies in the fracture energy of the previously developed nanotubes may be the reason behind their restricted applicability. According to a recently published article in the Advanced Engineering Materials journal, using capillary splicing for weaving carbon nanotubes helps in making them conductive and more tough. These properties were found extremely suitable for the development of stretchable and foldable electronic devices, health sensors and textiles, The Economic Times reported.

According to Business Standard, the scientists made use of catalyst deposited on silicon oxide substrate to initiate the process of chemical vapor deposition. The depositions were made in parallel lines that were 5-micrometer wide, 10-micrometer long and 20 to 60-micrometer high. This helped in the production of extremely tough and conductive vertically aligned carbon nanotubes.

The scientists then employed the nanotubes' capillary forces to staple or weave them together into sheets and fabrics. The idea behind using capillary splicing method for weaving or stapling the carbon nanotubes synthesized stemmed from the ancient Egyptian method of making linen, explained Yue Liang, lead author of the study.

Doing so not only helped in the development of more tough nano-fabrics but it also multiplied the chances of integrating it to biosensors and producing smart skins.

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