Scientists have developed the first method that can tease apart jumbles of carbon nanotubes with different coveted semiconductor properties, experts told UPI's Nano World.
The capability to sort apart mishmashes of nanotubes with different electrical properties created by current production techniques could help supply key ingredients for devices from advanced microchips and next-generation power cables to clinical therapeutics.
Carbon nanotubes are stronger than steel but weigh just a sixth as much. A wide variety of them exist, with very different properties. Some are excellent semiconductors, while others are metallic, conducting electricity as well as copper wires, if not better. They also come in single-walled and multi-walled kinds, which differ in size and strength.
The problem when it comes to nanotube diversity is that all current production methods for nanotubes turn out a hodgepodge of types, where engineers oftentimes need just one kind. The process researchers at the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory at Rice University in Houston use to manufacture carbon nanotubes, for instance, creates more than 50 different kinds, explained Howard Schmidt, executive director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory.