Researchers at the University of Nottingham are developing a novel method of analyzing and creating molecules that could lead to the production of novel nanomaterials for applications in ultrafast and ultra-compact data storage devices and computers.
The research team has been investigating the application of carbon nanotubes as chemical reactors for atoms and molecules. The researchers observed that when molecules are infused into carbon nanotubes, they demonstrate different chemical and physical properties compared to their properties in the free state. Thus, this method allows the manipulation of the functional properties of molecules, including optical and magnetic, as well as for monitoring their chemical reactivity.
During the study, the researchers demonstrated the application of carbon nanotubes as nanoscale chemical reactors in which sulphur and carbon atoms react to form a graphene nanoribbon with suphur atoms around its border.
Dr Andrei Khlobystov, who led the research team, stated that graphene nanoribbons have unique physical properties, which make them a better choice for spintronic and electronic applications than the base material graphene. The production of nanoribbons is very complicated but the Nottingham research team’s method of detaining chemical reactions inside the nanotube allows instant formation of nanoribbons, he said.
Khlobystov further said that the researchers observed that their nanoribbon has a unique helical twist that alters over time, allowing them to harness the material’s physical properties such as electrical conductivity. Nanoribbon-based devices can be utilized as nano-transistors, nano-actuators and nano-switches in data storage devices or computers.