Washington, February 8 : Scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have successfully created carbon nanotubes from commercially available aromatic containing resins.
The scientists have revealed that the method used by them helps form carbon nanotubes in a bulk carbonaceous solid.
Unlike the current chemical vapour deposition (CVD) methods that create CNTs from gaseous components, the new method is based on metal and carbon nanoparticles that form within the carbonaceous solid during the carbonisation process above 500 degree Celcius.
The researchers say that only a small amount of the organometallic compound or metal salt is needed to achieve the formation of CNTs in high yield, but large quantities of the metal source can be used, depending on the application, if desired.
The solid-state method also helps reduce economic barriers that are inherent with carbon nanotube materials produced by more conventional methods, as it enables the large-scale production of MWNTs in moldable solid forms, films, and fibres using low-cost precursors and equipment.
The NRL scientists have revealed that they use standard resin melt processing techniques to produce various shaped CNT-containing carbonaceous configurations. They say that their work is the first example of using high temperature thermosetting resins as a carbon source for the formation of CNTs.
According to them, all kinds of commercially available resins with good thermal properties and superior structural integrity-such as phthalonitriles resins, polyimides, epoxy resins, phenolics, and petroleum pitches-are attractive sources of carbon for CNT formation by the novel method.
The researchers say that the use of commercially available resins is a potentially inexpensive route to CNTs. They say that using this simple, potentially cost-effective method could result in the production of CNTs in large quantities and various shapes.
The potential range of applications of such CNTs is huge, including structure, energy, sensors, separation/filtration, battery, electronic displays, and nanoelectronic devices.
The CNTs are also being evaluated for their possible use in numerous aerospace, marine, and electronic applications.