VIDEO: Researchers create self assembling carbon nanotubes - Many potential applications

04/16/2016 - 17:27

Rice University

Carbon nanotubes in a dish assemble themselves into a nanowire in seconds under the influence of a custom-built Tesla coil created by scientists at Rice University.

But the scientists don't limit their aspirations for the phenomenon they call Teslaphoresis to simple nanowires.

The team led by Rice research scientist Paul Cherukuri sees its invention as setting a path toward the assembly of matter from the bottom up on nano and macro scales.


Ref: Teslaphoresis of Carbon Nanotubes. ACS NANO (13 April 2016) | DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b02313


This paper introduces Teslaphoresis, the directed motion and self-assembly of matter by a Tesla coil, and studies this electrokinetic phenomenon using single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Conventional directed self-assembly of matter using electric fields has been restricted to small scale structures, but with Teslaphoresis, we exceed this limitation by using the Tesla coil’s antenna to create a gradient high-voltage force field that projects into free space. CNTs placed within the Teslaphoretic (TEP) field polarize and self-assemble into wires that span from the nanoscale to the macroscale, the longest thus far being 15 cm. We show that the TEP field not only directs the self-assembly of long nanotube wires at remote distances (>30 cm) but can also wirelessly power nanotube-based LED circuits. Furthermore, individualized CNTs self-organize to form long parallel arrays with high fidelity alignment to the TEP field. Thus, Teslaphoresis is effective for directed self-assembly from the bottom-up to the macroscale.