nanotimes News in Brief
12-02 :: February/March 2012
Carbon Nanotubes // Researchers First to Attempt 3D CNT Architectures © Based on Material by Karen B. Roberts / University of Delaware
three other academic institutions, are collaborating to develop three-dimensional (3D) carbon nanotube structures. This is the first attempt to create and use 3D carbon nanotube solid networks.
“In order to apply carbon nanotube technology in macroscopic or large-scale applications, we must first synthesize and characterize a robust, structurally sound 3D carbon nanotube,” explains Jonghwan Suhr, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
While challenging, he believes a 3D architecture will make CNTs more versatile and may lead to new ap- plications in lightweight structural materials, energy storage and thermal management.
A key issue impeding their advance is joint failure. CNTs are made from an intricate arrangement of synthetic carbon atoms connected by joints. Transi- tioning from a one- or two-dimensional architecture to a three-dimensional architecture is fundamentally difficult because researchers must introduce atomic- scale junctions or joints between individual nanoscale elements so that they can be organized in a strong 3D network. Suhr and his UD colleagues plan to overcome this limitation using novel nanomaterial synthesis techniques and evaluating the new 3D
team of University of Delaware mechanical engineering professors, plus researchers from
nanomaterial using biomechanics theories typically applied to cartilage or bone.
“Three dimensional carbon nanotubes are porous and viscoelastic, similar to human tissue. While human tissue is a combination of tissue and fluid, carbon nanotubes are a combination of structural material and air,” says Lu.
Once created, the UD team will study the nano- tube’s electro-mechanical response using acoustic emissions, sounds waves made by the structure, to test the strength of the three dimensional architec- ture. After determining at what load the joint fails, the team can engineer a way to overcome this short- coming.
“The goal is to create solid materials by the con- trolled assembly and atomic-scale bonding of nano- scale elements, thereby leading to network solids with remarkably improved thermo-electro-mechani- cal properties,” says Suhr, who is also affiliated with UD’s Center for Composite Materials.