A carbon nanotube is as the name suggests a tube shaped material, built of carbon, having a diameter measured on the nanoscale. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have shown over the year’s remarkable properties and application particularly in the electrical engineering field due to their unique properties such as its high electrical conductivity. CNTs can in theory out perform copper and record three orders of magnitude higher current densities.

It’s not only their conductive properties that make CNTs of interest, they also show remarkable properties when used in mechanical engineering applications, overall CNTs also show amazing mechanical properties through stiffness, strength and overall robustness when compared to other fiber materials, of the same size and density.

A group of scientists from the University of Cambridge, UK, and the Silesian University of Technology, Poland have devised an ingenious way to modify the already superior electrical properties of CNTs, by treatment with an interhalogen compound, namely iodine monochloride. [Janas et al. Carbon 73, (2014), 225-233].

Interhalogen compounds are molecules whose atoms contain two or more different halogen atoms. Interhalogen bonds are more reactive than diatomic halogen bonds because interhalogen bonds are weaker than diatomic halogen bonds, except in diatomic fluorine. During treatment with the carbon nanotube, the interhalogen compound affects the electronic properties of the carbon nanotube.

The researchers compared this doping agents effect on conductivity across 3 different types of CNTs namely single wall CNTs (SWCNTs), double-wall CNTs (DWCNTs) and multi-wall CNTs (MWCNTs).

Results across the 3 types of CNTs showed varying degrees of effect in electrical conductivity, suggesting the technique can play an important and beneficial role in improving and controlling electrical properties of carbon nanotubes, and other carbon nanostructures such as graphene.

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