New Method to Sort Carbon Nanotubes
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New Method to Sort Carbon Nanotubes

July 27, 2010
Single-walled carbon nanotubes are coated in soap-like molecules called surfactants, then spun at tens of thousands of rotations per minute in an ultracentrifuge. The resulting density gradient sorts the nanotubes according to diameter, twist and electronic structure.

Current methods for synthesizing carbon nanotubes produce tiny tubes with a variety of diameters and properties which lack consistency and limits their use in commercial technology. Now, NSF-supported researchers at Northwestern University have developed a method to sort carbon nanotubes that vary from each other by no more than 0.02 nanometers (billionths of a meter).

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