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Purdue creates self-generating nanotubes with 'dial-up' properties

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Nanotubes, stringy supermolecules already used to create fuel cell batteries and tiny computer circuits, could find myriad new applications ranging from disease treatment to plastics manufacturing to information storage, reports a Purdue University research team.

Scientists led by Purdue chemist Hicham Fenniri have learned to create multiple species of nanotubes that possess unprecedented physical and chemical properties, each of which could lead to a different industrial application. Also unprecedented is the compete control they have over the nanotubes' formation, which allows the team to virtually "dial up" the properties they wish their nanotubes to possess. The findings could greatly expand the materials available for use on the nanoscale.

"Instead of being limited to building blocks of one size, shape and color, it's as though we now have a brickyard with many different varieties," Fenniri said. "This research could give a nanotechnologist a lot more materials for construction."

The research appeared on the Journal of the American Chemical Society's Web site. A print publication date has not yet been determined.

Since their discovery in 1991, nanotubes have become one of the most promising building blocks for nanotechnology. Last year, Japan's NEC Corp. developed a nanotube-based fuel cell battery that could power a notebook computer for days rather than hours. At about the same time, IBM researchers found a way to create logic circuits from individual carbon nanotubes, which could make them an alternative to silicon in future computers. After several years of pursuing their own research, Fenniri's group has discovered a new class of nanotubes that could dramatically expand their uses in industry.

Rather than work with carbon or metals, as other groups have done, the Fenniri team has formed nanotubes out of synthetic organic molecules. While other materials have distinct advantages, they are no
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Contact: Chad Boutin
cboutin@purdue.edu
765-494-2081
Purdue University
2-Oct-2002


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