NCCNM Areas of Research

Thrust 1: New Materials Synthesis and Fabrication

We develop methods and procedures to fabricate, purify, assemble nanotubes in a wide variety of configurations, and design and synthesize new nanotube-based materials with desired properties and functionalities. We investigate growth mechanisms, structure, dynamics, and chemical reactivity of the nanotubes.

We aim to:

(1) produce monodispersed carbon nanotubes with desired configurations;

(2) process and functionalize nanotubes for specific applications;

(3) produce hetero-carbon and non-carbon nanotubes;

(4) grow, assemble and pattern nanotubes on substrates;

(5) synthesize new generations of one-dimensional materials based on carbon nanotubes;

(6) fabricate nanotube/polymer composites;

(7) understand the growth mechanisms and structure of nanotubes.

Thrust 2: Mechanical Properties

By carrying out nanometer-scale measurements, modeling and theoretical investigations, we are aimed at developing a fundamental understanding of the mechanical properties of the individual nanotubes and nanotube complexes. The results from these studies will guide our applied activities in utilizing nanotubes as structural reinforcement materials, an area that is of strategic importance to the United States Department of Defense (DoD).

Towards this end, we:

(1) perform unique studies of rolling, bending and sliding of individual molecules on a variety of substrates and among other nanotubes;

(2) investigate the interaction between the nanotubes and matrices (i.e. polymers);

(3) develop the methodology to process nanotubes and fabricate nanotube based composites;

(4) test the mechanical properties of the composites and evaluate their performances;

(5) compare all growth, chemistry and mechanical response data to detailed calculations from ab initio, empirical, or classical molecular dynamics as appropriate.

Thrust 3: Electrical, Magnetic, and Optical Properties

Understanding and controlling the electrical and optical properties of the nanotubes will be key to use of the nanotubes in DoD and commercial applications. These properties are measured in detail, and the results correlated with growth parameters to "feed back" into the synthesis and processing parameters to provide methodology for obtaining designed materials.

Using a unique set of powerful local and bulk probes, we:

(1) fabricate (adjustable) nanometer contacts, maneuver the nanotubes on the contact sites and construct 2D and 3D nanotube structures;

(2) measure electrical and electronic properties of these nanotube structures will be measured down to low temperature (0.01K) and high magnetic field, and under strain;

(3) correlate the measurements with structural characterizations (i.e. diameter, helicity) to determine the diameter and helicity specific properties and elucidate the structure-property relations;

(4) compare all measured transport, quantum effects, magnetic and optical properties of the nanotubes with detailed theoretical models.

Thrust 4: Applications

We explore and assess the applicability of nanotubes and nanotube-based materials in four technology areas that are vital to DoD and civilian industry; light-weight and high-strength composites, high energy density batteries, display, and nano-devices. We hope to develop new materials and technologies for the above applications.

Specifically, we:

(1) fabricate prototype nanotube/polymer composites that have shown promising properties by the studies to be carried out in thrust area 2 and evaluate their performance;

(2) synthesize and investigate the electrochemical properties of Li intercalated CNTs;

(3) fabricate prototype Li-CNT batteries and comparing their performance to the commercial Li-C batteries;

(4) assemble and produce nanotube structures and test their field emission properties;

(5) fabricate nano-switches and test their performances.

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Page last modified, 7/13/99.