Printer Friendly

Getting down to basics with buckytubes.

Ever since chemists discovered buckytubes (SN: 11/16/91, p. 310), they've speculated that these hollow, nanometer-size carbon cylinders - related to the spherical buckyball- could prove the strongest fibers known and may also make good wires for molecular-scale electrical devices,

Scientists should soon have the materials to test those predictions. Two research groups report in the June 17 NATURE that they can make uniform batches of single-layer buckytubes. The ability to make this most basic of buckytubes will help chemists better understand the material's mechanical and electronic properties.

Previously, large-scale synthesis methods produced different sizes of bucky-tubes, often with several nested inside one another like Russian dolls (SN: 7/18/92, p.36). Such variability made it difficult for chemists to study these molecules. Re- searchers have explored the chemistry of single-shell buckytubes using computer simulations (SN: 11/14/92, p.327).

Now, a team of scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., has made the real thing -- although they were attempting to make metal-stuffed buckyballs. The group used the standard carbon arc technique for synthesizing buckminsterfullerenes, but added various powdered metals to one of the graphite electrodes. When they added cobalt, an unusual spider-web-like material grew all over the chamber, says IBM's Donald S. Bethune. A transmission electron microscope revealed that the rubbery material consisted largely of interwoven buckytubes, all about 1.2 nanometers in diameter and with walls a single atomic layer thick.

"There may be a magic-sized cobalt cluster that specifically triggers the growth of these tubes." Bethune posits.

Sumio Iijima and Toshinari Ichihashi of NEC Corp. in Tsukuba, Japan, also grew single-layer buckytubes in a carbon arc reactor, but iron served as the catalyst. They added methane and argon gases to the chamber, which proved essential to their synthesis, they report in NATURE.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:methods discovered for producing batches of single-layer buckytubes in uniform sizes
Author:Schmidt, Karen F.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 19, 1993
Words:300
Previous Article:Cretaceous extinctions: the strikes add up.
Next Article:A better breast test: bringing digital imaging to mammography.
Topics:


Related Articles
Looking for the sparkle in carbon films.
Getting lead atoms into carbon nanotubes.
Tandem mixing.
Continuous processing high quality compounds on a co-rotating twin screw extruder.
Cooking up carbon doughnuts.
Performance differences between carbon blacks and CB blends for critical IR applications.
Optimizing mixing in the Farrel Banbury mixer with wing function.
Not your father's press section.
Production equipment: dispersion and grinding overview.
SDK to Produce Large Area Organic EL Panels, Using Innovative Phosphorescent Polymer Technology.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters