7/08/2007

Panda-Free Nanobamboo

The wonders of the Internet never cease to amaze me. Just Friday, while reading the Nano Letters ASAP list, I gazed in wonder upon the coolest graphical abstract I've seen yet:


This is a TEM video of a carbon nanotube being born. But not just any carbon nanotube- a bamboo nanotube! I am including a picture of a panda for this reason. Here is a picture of a panda:


Pandas do not eat bamboo-like carbon nanotubes, most likely because they do not grow naturally in China. However, they do grow unnaturally in Singapore, as this group has shown us with their amazing in-situ reaction TEM camera apparatus thingy.

Carbon nanotubes, as I've blagged about before, are renowned for their extraordinary strength and conductivity. Conductive carbon has been a huge thrust in research, particularly in the past five years, due in part to the discovery of monolayer graphene and extensive progresses in nanotube-based devices. Of the latter, two of my favorite nanotube-related discoveries have been putting shit into nanotubes, and grafting nanotubes for use as high aspect ratio AFM tips.

There are basically two kinds of carbon nanotubes: single-wall nanotubes (SWNT) and multi-wall nanotubes (MWNT). Both kinds come in different sizes and MWNTs come in various layer amounts and whatnot. Bamboo-like nanotubes, as opposed to regular nanotubes, are distinguished by graphene-based "knots" that connect one side of the nanotube to the other. Bamboo has knots, too- except instead one or several graphene sheets, panda-approved bamboo is made of plant matter- lots of starches and whatnot. That's why they're called bamboo-like nanotubes.


Granted, imaging of carbon nanotube growth is nothing new. However, this is the first time the growth of bamboo-like nanotubes has been imaged. So how'd they do it? TEM, by necessity, has to operate under ultrahigh vacuum, so ambient growth of nanotubes was out. The process was pretty sneaky. Nanotubes can be grown by heating ethylene gas in the presence of nickel nanoparticles at high temperatures. So they took a sliver of nickel nanoparticles, put it in the TEM, and bled a small amount of ethylene gas into the TEM chamber such that the pressure was kept constant, but still under ultrahigh vacuum. They heated the TEM to 650°C and took several stills of nanotube growth and, through the magic of the internet, put it up for everyone to enjoy.

Videos are one of the more dynamic forms of media on the internet. I hope that more scientists in the future will utilize some of the more non-trivial methods of data presentation, to ensure that things like videos of nanotubes being made are more than just sensory fluff- they can be used as a legitimate, useful form of output.

12 comments:

Ψ*Ψ said...

Last year I was at a seminar on this. It wouldn't have been anywhere near as cool without the videos.
I'm all for the multimedia in presenting chemistry. It seems like the other sciences (physics, biology, etc.) have an immediate, broad appeal to the general public. Chemistry...maybe not so much (check the general-interest science magazines if you don't believe me)--we need to seduce the people with pretty pictures.

Paul said...

Is this the first example of a video graphical abstract in a chemistry journal?

Excimer said...

I don't know. It's the first one I've seen. A safe bet would be to say "no," but I suppose I could ask...

Mitch said...

Nothing wrong with "sensory fluff". :)

Mitch

Mitch said...

The panda syas NO!

milkshake said...

Are you sure the video is not an animation of a panda boner getting X-rayed?

Matt Jenks said...

Maybe the guy who made the Nanokids can make a Nanopanda to come eat the nanobamboo.

Uncle Al said...

So, like what, ya know? Each JACS with a CD inside? JACS on CD rather than dead trees? ACS requirements for a certified BS/Chem should be reframed to include

1) mandatory 20 credit-hours of sensitivity training (AP credit compassionately granted for all but Caucasians and Asians),

2) 100 hours of Project SEED volunteer labor or voluntary $1000 donation (AP credit compassionately granted for all but Caucasians and Asians), and

3) Ownership of an iPhone to download journal-related graphics, $(US)0.01/connect-second (hardware and connect compassionately gratis to...).

We are the ACS. We are here to help ourselves to you.

mevans said...

And here I thought putting shit into nanotubes was going to revolutionize the fecal storage industry.

Got to give it a few more years, I guess...

Rob W. said...

In a rather unrelated note, I just discovered on Wikipedia where the "coronene" in your Blogger address comes from. Any suggestions for good PAH sites?

Excimer said...

Here. lol, I don't know, honestly. ψ*ψ and I try to compile whatever PAH articles we can, but a good primer is "The Aromatic Sextet" by Clar.

Ψ*Ψ said...

As far as other blogs go, someone will occasionally post a pretty aromatic something-or-other, but to the best of my knowledge we're the only ones who focus extensively (excessively?) on PAHs.