Clean Technology 2009

Cutting of carbon nanotubes using hard nanoparticles

E.G. Baburaj, R. Hauge, I. Resokova, B. Abhijit, V. Hadjiev
Clarkson Aerospace Corporation, US

Keywords: carbon nanotubes, short, cutting, functionalization


Single and multiwall carbon nanotubes have been cut by a mechanical means involving the use of hard, faceted, nanocarbide particles as cutting edges. Cutting experiments to form short nanotubes were carried out by ball milling carbon nanotubes and nanocrystalline metal carbides. AFM results on cut nanotubes show the feasibility of producing desired short lengths of nanotubes in the range of 50 to 200 nm, in a short processing time of few minutes. Further detailed characterization of the cut nanotubes using transmission electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy indicates the possibility to minimize entanglement and feasibility for in situ functionalization of nanotubes. The predominant mechanism of nanotube fragmentation appears to be the breaking of carbon-carbon bonds due to the stress concentration at the faceted edges of nanocarbide crystals that impact the nanotubes during ball milling. The cutting of nanotubes demonstrated in the present experiments is scalable and the cut nanotubes with end openings may find a variety of applications in nanocomposites, electronics, and therapeutic drugs. Further work on in situ functionalization during cutting is in progress.
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