Old newspapers officially named the best raw materials for growing carbon nanotubes

MDPI published the results of a new study, according to which old paper newspapers are recognized as the most promising raw materials for growing carbon nanotubes. The need for them is only growing, and scientists have already developed technologies for the formation of nanotubes on the remains of organic substances, on animal or industrial waste, on synthetic materials. But the old newspapers had two undeniable advantages.

Newspapers, which are sets of paper sheets, the authors of the study called the ideal 2D platform for growing nanotubes. Firstly, they are extremely cheap, including the costs of preparing the surface for the start of the process. Secondly, the process is easy to scale by simply adding new newspaper sheets to the installation - each of them is a kind of section in a common “farm”.

But there is a fundamental limitation - only newspapers on paper with kaolin filler are suitable for growing carbon nanotubes, it is also porcelain clay. Not talc or titanium dioxide, which is added to the paper for wear resistance, and not even calcium carbonate, namely kaolin. It has been experimentally proved that when used as an iron catalyst, kaolin provides the best chemical conditions for tube growth.

As noted by Andrew Barron, a professor at Rice University in the United States, the study summarizes the best options for reducing the cost of both the substrate and the post-synthesis process. And this, in turn, provides a transition to mass, streaming production of single-walled carbon nanotubes.

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