Materials Science

Nanotubes in the Groove

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Science  18 Oct 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5593, pp. 499
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5593.499a

Molecules in liquid crystalline materials can be aligned either by pretreatment of a substrate surface or by the subsequent application of an electric or magnetic field. Lynch and Patrick exploited this property to create well-oriented carbon nanotube (CNT) films. The CNTs were dissolved into one of two common nematic liquid crystals and then deposited onto pre-scratched polycarbonate membrane substrates. The liquid crystal molecules tended to align parallel to the grooves in the substrate, forcing the CNT to follow suit. By applying a mild vacuum, the liquid crystal was drawn out through the holes in the membrane, leaving behind either single or multilayered films as desired. Applying an electric field to part of the substrate could locally reorient some of the CNTs perpendicular to the direction of the grooves. This technique should make it easier to engineer nanotube-based devices or reinforcing layers without the need to grow oriented CNT in situ. — MSL

Nano Lett. 10.1021/nl025694j (2002).

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