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NEWS
Carbon Nanotube 'Ink' Process Developed
February 2, 2009

Using a simple chemical process, scientists at Cornell and Du-Pont have invented a method of preparing carbon nanotubes for suspension in a semiconducting “ink,” which can then be printed into such thin, flexible electronics as transistors and photovoltaic materials. The method, which involves treating carbon nanotubes with fluorine-based molecules, was reported in a recent issue of the journal Science.

Carbon nanotubes are good candidates for transistors in low-cost, printable electronics, but only after large quantities of them have been converted into semiconductors. When carbon nanotubes are grown in the lab, some are semiconducting but others are metallic, and they are extremely difficult to separate from each other.

The Cornell/DuPont team concentrated on a new, inexpensive method to eliminate the metallic nanotubes, preparing them for use in such applications as suspension in semiconducting ink for printing. To do so, the researchers brought fluorine-based molecules into contact with the nanotubes. Through a process called cycloaddition, the fluorine molecules efficiently attacked or converted the metallic nanotubes, leaving the semiconducting tubes alone, and creating a perfect batch of solely semiconducting nanotubes.

For the past several years, scientists from Cornell and DuPont have worked together on a variety of projects involving flexible electronics. The research is funded by a grant from the U.S. Air Force for developing transistors from carbon nanotubes.


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