Scientists decoded unusual growth characteristic of carbon nanotubes, according to a study conducted July 26, 2018.
This study was conducted by the scientists at the Rice University. They developed a theory that when nanotubes are grown in a furnace, a catalyst with a specific atomic arrangement and symmetry would reliably make carbon nanotubes of similar chirality.
A nanotube’s electrical properties are determined based on its chirality. Therefore, the ability to grow chiral-specific batches could lead to wires that can transmit energy without loss. Nanotubes generally grow in random chiralities.
This study is expected to be a positive step towards catalysts that produce homogenous batches of nanotubes. A conundrum presented by other experimentalists at a 2013 workshop was tackled by the researchers of this study. For catalyzing single-walled nanotubes, an alloy of cobalt and tungsten were used by those experimentalists. Over 90 percent of the nanotubes had a chirality of (12,6) in their studies.
(12,6) are coordinates that refers to a nanotube’s chiral vector. Identical chiral indices were shown by armchair nanotubes such as (9,9) and are highly desired for their perfect conductivity. According to the researcher of this study, the way in which experimentalists explained their work was puzzling from the beginning. They said this catalyst has a specific symmetry that matches the (12,6) edge, so these nanotubes preferentially nucleate and grow. Ksenia Bets said, “We figured out that if we had run the calculations in series instead of in parallel, they would have taken the equivalent of at least 2,000 years of computer time.”