NNCB Science Laboratory

Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon Nanotubes combine both molecular and solid state properties and can be considered as an intermediate state of substance which have unique electronic and mechanical properties combined with chemical stability. Carbon nanotubes may serve as basis for new electronic devices of nanometer size, for creation of materials with unique properties and for many others scientific and technological applications. This unique material may be a basis of new age technologies.

Nanotubes are made of carbon atoms which are arranged in a rolled up chicken-like structure. They get their strength from strong bonds between carbon atoms. Nanotubes have six electrons and six protons.  Each nanotubes looks like a tall thin bamboo tree hollow inside. It is an excellent conductor of both heat and electricity. Each carbon molecule makes three bonds. Since nanotubes have extreme tensile strength, it can be used in many different applications.

It can exist as graphite, diamond and soot. Carbon nanotube has high carrier mobility and has an excellent electrostatics due to thin 1-D structure.

But actually carbon nanotubes are toxic. But despite this fact, there is a big market for nanotube particles as they are essential for frames and so on.

Carbon nanotubes can be synthesized in three different ways, through laser ablation, electric-arc discharge and catalytic chemical vapor deposition.

Electric arc discharge is the simplest method to produce carbon nanotubes. It vaporizes carbon source with an electric current.

Catalytic chemical vapor deposition. Nanotubes can continuously be grown, no actual vaporization of materials and diameter can be controlled.

Laser ablation. In this process, there is higher yield of carbon nanotubes which is 70% compared to 30% through electric arc discharge. Here, size and diameter of carbon nanotubes can be controlled.