Nanotubes as chemical reactor for nanoribbon production

August 10, 2011
Nanotube Reactor

Carbon nanotubes can be used as nanoscale chemical reactors to form a graphene nanoribbon (credit: University of Nottingham)

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have pioneered a new method of using carbon nanotubes as nanoscale chemical reactors (containing chemical reactions).

Chemical reactions involving carbon and sulfur atoms held within a carbon nanotube lead to the formation of atomically thin strips of carbon (graphene nanoribbon) decorated with sulfur atoms around the edge.

The team has also discovered that nanoribbons — far from being simple flat and linear structures — possess an unprecedented helical twist that changes over time, giving scientists a way of controlling physical properties of the nanoribbon, such as electrical conductivity.

Devices based on nanoribbons could potentially be used as nano-switches, nano-actuators, and nano-transistors integrated in computers or data storage devices, the researchers said.

A. Chuvilin, et al., Self-assembly of a sulphur-terminated graphene nanoribbon within a single-walled carbon nanotube, Nature Materials, 2011; [DOI: 10.1038/nmat3082]