Synthesising single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) is one of the greatest challenges faced by materials science. They can be synthesised using precursor molecules, so-called seeds, which determine growth.
However, this synthesis has not been well researched up to now. Researchers at FAU have now developed a method for assembling these complex molecules from a small number of segments.
They have recently published their findings in the journal Nature Communications ("Combinatorial design of molecular seeds for chirality-controlled synthesis of single-walled carbon nanotubes").
Schematic representation of the first rational surface-assisted synthesis of (6,6) SWCNTs36. The main steps are illustrated: precursor synthesis, precursor deposition on the metal surface, catalytic cyclodehydrogenation (zipping) to the SWCNT seed and the subsequent epitaxial elongation of the target chirality pure SWCNT.
‘Due to their extraordinary properties, single-wall carbon nanotubes are considered the most promising candidates for making dreams in the field of modern nanotechnology a reality,’ explains Dr. Konstantin Amscharov, Chair of Organic Chemistry II.
However, synthesising several carbon nanotubes with the same structure remains challenging. The only known method of synthesising selected SWCNTs is by epitaxial elongation of ultra-short nanotubes or molecular seeds, which are very difficult to produce.
However, arranging a combination of complimentary segments allows SWNCTs to be synthesised. In a series of experiments, Amsharov successfully synthesised seeds for 21 different types of tubes using only three components.
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Accessed: Sept 05, 2019.