Scientists make ‘force field’ for super materials

Scientists have built up a revolutionary technique to complicatedly develop and secure a portion of the world’s most exciting nanomaterials—graphene and carbon nanotubes (CNT).

Whenever curved and rolled into cylinders, thin graphene layers form CNT structures. These rolled sheets of carbon can be a thousandth of the diameter of human hair and have uncommon properties, for example, extraordinary electrical conduction, or 100 times the quality of high tensile steel. Albeit widely viewed as the key to creating future batteries and supercapacitor technologies, CNTs are tormented with environmental ‘poisoning’ which makes the materials lose their catalyst properties.

In a paper published by the journal Carbon, specialists from the University of Surrey detail their new technique for covering the CNTs’ catalyst by utilizing a protective layer that is configured to permit carbon diffusion and along these lines can be utilized to shield the catalyst from environmental contamination. The strategy enables the catalyst to be transported, stored or accurately calibrated for future use.

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of Advanced Technology Institute, stated: “The protective catalyst technique provides a breakthrough in terms of usability and industrial applicability of carbon nanomaterials. For example, the poisoning of the catalyst by environmental contamination such as oxidation and unwanted etching of the thin catalyst film during reactive ion etching or wet-etching can now be prevented.”

Lead author of the study, Dr. Muhammad Ahmad from the University of Surrey, stated: “The age-old problem of poor attachment of the nano-carbon materials to the substrate has now been solved using this unique technique. By fine tuning the thickness of the protective layer, accurate control of the carbon supply to the catalyst is achieved to grow selected numbers of graphene layers or precise CNT films.”

“We hope that our research will free fellow scientists to unlock the incredible potential of carbon nanomaterials and I would not be surprised to see advances in areas such as sensor, battery and supercapacitor technologies.”