From Tubes to Ribbons: A Novel, Bulk Process
This week in Nature, James Tour and Dmitry Kosynkin from Rice University report a novel way to transform carbon nanotubes into nanoribbons. Their method, a room-temperature, chemical process, relies on sulfuric acid and potassium permanganate to effectively "unzip" the tubes. The process has been applied to single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, and allows for bulk production of ribbons.
This process could potentially make "billions of ribbons at once," Tour stated in a Nature podcast (April 16). With potential applications in conductive films for displays or solar panels, the process is attracting manufacturers looking for a simple, efficient, and scalable method to handle graphene. "As soon as we started talking about this process, we began getting calls from manufacturers that recognized the potential," reports Tour on Nanotechwire.
A complementary process, also reported in Nature this week by Liying Jiao and colleagues from Stanford University, uses a plasma etching process to render carbon nanotubes into semiconducting ribbons.
- Complete Nature Report, by Kosynkin, et al
- "Rice Researchers Unzip the Future," Nanotechwire.com
- Nature Podcast for April 16.
- "Materials Science: Nanotubes Unzipped," Nature News and Views, Mauricio Terrones
- "Nanotubes Cut to Ribbons," Nature News, Geoff Brumfiel
- Compete Nature Report, by Jiao, et al.
Image reproduced by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature (Kosynkin DV, Higginbotham AL, Sinitskii A, Lomeda JR, Dimiev A, Price BK, and Tour JM. 2009. Longitudinal Unzipping of Carbon Nanotubes to Form Graphene Nanoribbons. Nature 458. DOI: 10.1038/nature07872.), copyright 2009.