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Technoscience

Carbon nanopapyrus

Carbon nitride nanotubes: made of sheets one atom thick

DOUGLAS GALVÃO and ERIC PERIM / UNICAMPCarbon nitride nanotubes: made of sheets one atom thick DOUGLAS GALVÃO and ERIC PERIM / UNICAMP

According to physicists Douglas Galvão and Eric Perim from the University of Campinas, a new material called carbon nitride can be made into a type of structure called a nanotube — a sheet just one atom thick, rolled up like an ancient papyrus (ChemPhysChem, May 2014). The first nanotubes were produced in a controlled environment in 2004, by rolling up sheets of a material called graphene — a lattice of carbon, one atom thick. With high tensile strength and the ability to conduct electricity, graphene is usually rolled up into nanotubes of a fixed diameter. By rolling graphene into a spiral-like structure, it is possible to obtain tubes of varying diameter. Galvão and his colleagues showed in 2006 that nanotube diameter could be controlled through electrical discharges. “This permits their use as springs in nanomechanical devices, or as gas traps,” Perim explains. In 2009, Perim and Galvão performed computer calculations showing the possibility of producing nanotubes of boron nitride, a material with properties similar to those of graphene. New simulations suggest that nanotubes can also be made of carbon nitride. The advantages of this material include its pores of three different sizes, which can be used for storing gas particles.

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