Why Carbon Nanotubes Grow
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A theoretical analysis has finally revealed what drives the growth of carbon nanotubes.
First discovered in 1991, carbon nanotubes are long, but incredibly slender cylinders of carbon. Their remarkable properties make them attractive for a wide range of applications.
Carbon nanotubes are produced by growing on a nanoparticle catalyst. But it has been has been a mystery why they grow since capping of the catalyst should be a more energetically favourable process.
Now, a team led by researchers from the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea has shown in a simple theoretical model that the contact angle — a neglected aspect in previous studies — is critical for explaining carbon-nanotube growth.
This finding will help improve the design of catalysts for growing carbon nanotubes, the researchers say.
- Journal of American Chemical Society 144, 5606−5613 (2022). doi: 10.1021/jacs.2c00879