New research at Rice University ultimately could show scientists the way to make batches of nanotubes of a single type. A paper in the online journal Physical Review Letters unveils an elegant formula by Rice University physicist Boris Yakobson and his colleagues that defines the energy of a piece of graphene cut at any angle.
Yakobson, a professor in mechanical engineering and materials science and of chemistry, says this alone is significant because the way graphene handles energy depends upon the angle — or chirality — of its edge, and solving that process for odd angles has been extremely challenging. But, he wrote, the research has “profound implications in the context of nanotube growth, offering rational ways to control their chiral symmetry, a tantalising yet so far elusive goal.”
Graphene is the single-atom-thick form of carbon that has become of tremendous interest for its potential to revolutionise electronics, optics, sensing and mechanical devices. Getting a handle on how this chicken-wire-shaped sheet of carbon atoms transports electricity has been the focus of intense study.
More information on the research is available from EurekAlert!