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The Wonderful World of Carbon Nanotubes


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Meyya Meyyappan is Chief Scientist for Exploration Technology at the Center for Nanotechnology, NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA. In this presentation, Meyya explores the combination of remarkable mechanical properties and unique electronic properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and how they offer significant potential for revolutionary applications.

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The Wonderful World of Carbon Nanotubes

  1. 1. M. Meyyappan NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA 94035 [email_address] The Wonderful World of Carbon Nanotubes From AIChE Webinar: December 17, 2009
  2. 2. Carbon Nanotube CNT is a tubular form of carbon with diameter as small as 1 nm. Length: few nm to microns. CNT is configurationally equivalent to a single or multiple two dimensional graphene sheet(s) rolled into a tube (single wall vs. multiwalled). CNT exhibits extraordinary mechanical properties: Young’s modulus over 1 Tera Pascal, as stiff as diamond, and tensile strength ~ 200 GPa. CNT can be metallic or semiconducting, depending on (m-n)/3 is an integer (metallic) or not (semiconductor). See textbook on Carbon Nanotubes: Science and Applications, M. Meyyappan, CRC Press, 2004.
  3. 3. CNT Properties • The strongest and most flexible molecular material because of C-C covalent bonding and seamless hexagonal network architecture • Young’s modulus of over 1 TPa vs 70 GPa for Aluminum, 700 GPa for C-fiber - strength to weight ratio 500 time > for Al; similar improvements over steel and titanium; one order of magnitude improvement over graphite/epoxy • Maximum strain 10%; much higher than any material • Thermal conductivity ~ 3000 W/mK in the axial direction with small values in the radial direction
  4. 4. • Can be metallic or semiconducting depending on chirality - ‘tunable’ bandgap - electronic properties can be tailored through application of external magnetic field, application of mechanical deformation… • Very high current carrying capacity (10 7 - 10 9 A/cm 2 ) • Excellent field emitter; high aspect ratio and small tip radius of curvature are ideal for field emission • Other chemical groups can be attached to the tip or sidewall (called ‘functionalization’) CNT Properties (cont.)
  5. 5. CNT Applications: Structural, Mechanical • High strength composites • Cables, tethers, beams • Multifunctional materials • Functionalize and use as polymer back bone - plastics with enhanced properties like “blow molded steel” • Heat exchangers, radiators, thermal barriers, cryotanks • Radiation shielding (with H 2 or Boron storage) • Filter membranes, catalyst supports • Body armor, space suits
  6. 6. CNT Applications Sensors, Bio, NEMS • CNT based microscopy: AFM • Nanotube sensors: bio, chemical… • Batteries (Li storage), Fuel Cells • Nanoscale reactors, ion channels • Biomedical - Nanoelectrodes for implantation - Lab on a chip - Artificial muscles - Vision chip for macular degeneration, retinal cell transplantation Electronics • CNT quantum wire interconnects • Diodes and transistors for computing • Data Storage / memory • Capacitors • Field emitters for instrumentation • Flat panel displays Challenges Challenges
  7. 7. CNT Synthesis • CNT has been grown by laser ablation (pioneered at Rice University) and carbon arc process (NEC, Japan) - early 90s. - SWNT, high purity, purification methods • CVD is ideal for patterned growth (electronics, sensor applications) - Well known technique from microelectronics - Hydrocarbon feedstock - Growth needs catalyst (transition metal: Fe, Ni, Co) - 500-900° deg. C. - Numerous parameters influence CNT growth (temperature, choice of feedstock, H 2 and other diluents, choice of catalyst and preparation)
  8. 8. Catalysts for Nanotube Growth • Solution based techniques are time consuming; also hard to confine catalysts in ultrasmall patterns. • Physical techniques (sputtering, laser deposition…) are much quicker, amenable for patterning.
  9. 9. Summary <ul><li>Learn More about: </li></ul><ul><li>• How CNTs have been a cornerstone of nanomaterial revolution in the past decade. </li></ul><ul><li>How Unique electronic properties and extraordinary mechanical properties have led to wide-ranging applications. </li></ul><ul><li>• And about challenges that include: - ability to control diameter and chirality - large scale production, price - timely development of applications for manufacturing </li></ul>Watch the Complete Webinar on The Wonderful World of Carbon Nanotubes