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'Going negative' pays for nanotubes
Date:5/3/2013

ar appetite for potassium; they strip the remaining ions from the nanotube walls and sequester them. The tubes' repulsive qualities become greater and allow for more nanotubes in a solution before van der Waals forces them to coagulate.

At critical mass, nanotubes suspended in solution run out of room and form a liquid crystal, Mart said. "They align when they get so crowded in the solution that they cannot pack any closer in a randomly aligned state," he said. "Electrostatic repulsions prevent van der Waals interactions from taking over, so nanotubes don't have another choice but to align themselves, forming liquid crystals."

Liquid crystalline nanotubes are essential to the production of strong, conductive fiber, like the fiber achieved with superacid suspensions. But Mart said going negative means nanotubes can be more easily functionalized -- that is, chemically altered for specific uses.

"The negative charges on the surface of the nanotubes allow chemical reactions that you cannot do with superacids," Mart said. "You may, for example, be able to functionalize the surface of the carbon nanotubes at the same time you're making fiber. You might be able to crosslink nanotubes to make a stronger fiber while extruding it.

"We feel we're bringing a new player to the field of carbon nanotechnology, especially for making macroscopic materials," he said.


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Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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