Inspired by nature's ingenious biological designs, researchers have persistently attempted to mimic these biofunctionalities to bring technological breakthroughs. One of these morphologies - the unique shape of a helical coil - is not only interesting from a scientific standpoint but also pivotal, offering DNA its distinctive properties and propelling flagella in viscous fluids, to name a few. With the advent of personalized medicine on the horizon, researchers are now trying to use tiny springs made of carbon nanotubes, i.e. nanocoils, to propel nanorobots to perform microsurgeries.
Researchers have created a free-standing carbon nanotube paper electrode with high sulfur loading for lithium-sulfur batteries employing a bottom-up strategy to design and fabricate a hierarchical structure. This new fabrication method does not employ aluminum foil or binders, thereby fully utilizing the advantage of a Li-S system with high specific capacity. This proof-of-concept experiment indicates that the rational design of the nanostructured electrode offers the possibility to efficiently use the active materials at practical loading.
Researchers have demonstrated a unique coaxial carbon nanocable material with pristine carbon nanotubes as the core and nitrogen-doped wrinkled carbon layer as the shell. The active sites rendered by the surface enriched dopant atoms on the carbon nanocables are accessible and effective to catalyze the oxygen involved electrochemical reactions. These coaxial nanocables afford higher ORR/OER current compared with the routine bulk doped nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes.
Researchers consider the rational combination of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene into three-dimensional hybrids an effective route to amplify the inherent physical properties at the macroscale. By in situ nitrogen doping and structural hybridization of carbon nanotubes and graphene, researchers have now successfully fabricated nitrogen-doped aligned carbon nanotube/graphene sandwiches. In this work, aligned CNTs and graphene layers were anchored to each other, constructing a sandwich-like hierarchical architecture with efficient 3D electron transfer pathways and ion diffusion channels.
The microstructures of carbon nanotube assemblies determine their properties, for example, highly graphitized CNTs exhibit excellent mechanical and electrical properties; while CNTs with defects and poor crystallinity are beneficial for research on field emission property and hydrogen storage capacity. Therefore, it is of vital importance to control the CNT microstructures effectively for desired applications. A new technique can solve a problem of three-dimensional orientation control of CNTs in microscopic scale.
Researchers report for the first time the fabrication and measurement of all-inkjet-printed, all-air-processed organic solar cells. Organic photovoltaic technologies have the potential to become a thin-film alternative to inorganic silicon photovoltaics due to their intrinsic potential for low-cost print processing from solution - high-speed and at low temperature. Organic solar cells can be integrated into building facades and windows because they are optically translucent and can be manufactured on large areas at high throughput.
Studies have shown that in a favorable nano environment, enzyme immobilization onto nanosupports could lead to increased enzyme stability and improved specificity, and could allow for prolonged enzyme functionality through chemical and physical treatment. Researchers also have shown that immobilization onto carbon-based nanosupports can increase the enzyme turnover and allow for prolonged enzyme-based conjugates isolation and usage. In new work, researchers have now taken another step towards the detailed characterization and optimization of enzyme-nanosupport interface reactions.
Taking the approach of flexible electronics one step further, researchers now have integrated all-carbon based electronic devices to live plants and insects. They developed an unconventional approach for the in situ synthesis of monolithically integrated electronic devices based on single-walled carbon nanotube channels and graphitic electrodes. The highly flexible transistors were formed directly by the in situ synthesis using patterned metal catalyst films and subsequently could be transferred to both planar and nonplanar substrates, including papers, clothes, and fingernails.