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NJIT chemists modify carbon nanotubes using microwaves

Researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology have discovered a novel method of changing the chemical characteristics of carbon nanotubes by heating them in a closed vessel microwave oven. Somenath Mitra, PhD, professor of chemistry and environmental sciences, and Zafar Iqbal, PhD, also a professor of chemistry and environmental sciences, will discuss their findings Thursday, March 17 from 8:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at the 229th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, San Diego.

The pair, aided by doctoral student Yubing Wang, have written "Microwave-Induced, Green and Rapid Chemical Functionalization of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes" to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Carbon.

Carbon nanotubes, which were only discovered in 1991, are molecular-scale nano materials made from carbon atoms connected single-file in a tube. The tubes are closed at either end by hemispherical structures and typically exhibit lengths ranging from tens of micrometers to a few millimeters.

"We understand ourselves to be the first in the world to have discovered this method," said Mitra. "The beauty is that our method is green and clean. We use no toxic material and reduce the reaction times from hours--on occasion even days--to three minutes."

Iqbal noted that the method costs much less than others currently used. "Plus, the solubility of our carbon nanotubes are several times higher than any other researcher has yet reported in this short amount of time." Solubility is the most essential characteristic of carbon nanotubes since researchers must be able to dissolve them to see them work their magic.

With a microwave oven hitting temperatures of 250 degrees Celsius, the researchers can chemically modify the tubes. Such a temperature is closer to radiation treatment than the output of a kitchen microwave oven. Since the reactions are fast, the nanotubes are not damage
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Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
sheryl.m.weinstein@njit.edu
973-596-3436
New Jersey Institute of Technology
17-Mar-2005


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