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Initiation of carbon nanotube growth by well-defined carbon nanorings

Haruka Omachi, Takuya Nakayama, Eri Takahashi, Yasutomo Segawa, and Kenichiro Itami

Nature Chemistry, 2013, in press. DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1655

 

Currently, carbon nanotubes (CNTs), tubular molecular entities that consist of sp2-hybridized carbon atoms, are produced as mixtures that contain tubes of various diameters and different sidewall structures. The electronic and optical properties of CNTs are determined by their diameters and sidewall structures and so a controlled synthesis of uniform-diameter, single-chirality CNTs (a significant chemical challenge) would provide access to pure samples with predictable properties. Here we report a rational bottom-up approach to synthesize structurally uniform CNTs using carbon nanorings (cycloparaphenylenes) as templates and ethanol as the carbon source. The average diameter of the CNTs formed is close to that of the carbon nanorings used, which supports the operation of a ‘growth-from-template’ mechanism in CNT formation. This bottom-up organic chemistry approach is intrinsically different from other conventional approaches to making CNTs and, if it can be optimized sufficiently, offers a route to the programmable synthesis of structurally uniform CNTs.

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