Office of the President

GROWING NANOTUBES IN REAL TIME

Zafar Iqbal, research professor of chemistry, partnered with Professor Renu Sharma of Arizona State University to describe the real time growth of carbon nanotubes in the environmental chamber of a transmission electron microscope. The study provides the first direct nanoscale view of the nanotube growth process, in which a subtle interplay between the dark catalyst particles and the growing tubes can be seen in real time. These studies will provide an intimate understanding of the controlled self-assembly of carbon nanotubes in nanoscale devices and high strength nanocomposites.

The study, published in Applied Physics Letters (Feb. 9, 2004),  was considered an important advance in synthesis and growth of carbon nanotubes which are emerging as the basis of new superstrength materials of the future. An important advance in this emerging field, The growth is shown in the images above as a sequence of 180 second time intervals up to 9 minutes. left to right. This work  will provide an intimate understanding of the controlled self-assembly of carbon nanotubes in nanoscale devices and high strength nanocomposites, where they are expected to play a variety of critical roles.