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Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are a one-dimensional form of carbon. Part of a unique class of materials known as nanomaterials, 1D materials like carbon nanotubes are typically only one atom thick in at least one spatial dimension. Since the seminal 1991 paper, ‘Helical microtubules of graphitic carbon’ by Sumio Iijima [1], the scientific community have been fascinated by the incredible properties held by carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes are created when single layer hexagonal carbon lattices, similar to graphene, are rolled up to form elongated hollow tubes which are either open-ended or capped at the end with half fullerene molecules. Due to the structure and dimensional constraints placed upon them, they exhibit exceptional mechanical, electrical, thermal, and optical properties not found in their bulk counterparts. Carbon nanotubes can either be single walled (SWCNTs) or can have two (double-walled carbon nanotubes, or DWCNTs) or more tubes (multi-walled carbon nanotubes, or MWCNTs) nested within one another.

Applications of carbon nanotubes range from semiconductors [2], chemical sensors [3], supercapacitors [4], field emission devices [5] and even in environmental pollution remediation [6]. In addition, they have great use in electronic systems due to the incredible conductivity of charge carriers, with experimental results demonstrating an electrical carrying capacity up to 1000 times that of copper wires [2]. This charge carrying capacity also means that carbon nanotubes can be used in supercapacitors, as multi-walled carbon nanotubes have an almost one-dimensional electronic structure. This allows ballistic charge carrier transport over large distances with little thermal heating [7]. Further electric applications extend to semiconductors, as carbon nanotubes can act in either a metallic, semi-metallic or semiconductor regime depending on the symmetry (chirality) of the nanotube (the orientation of the hexagonal lattice). When added to form composite materials, the properties of carbon nanotubes can be used to modify those materials.

We sell a range of various types of single, double, and multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Carboxylic acid (-COOH) and hydroxyl (-OH) functionalised versions of each type of nanotube are also available to buy. Functionalisation of carbon nanotubes can improve its properties such as its dispersability in solvents, or to provide potential biochemical functionality to the surface of the nanotubes. Functionalisation of the outer wall of double- or multi-walled carbon nanotubes does not alter the properties of the inner tubes, allowing them to retain their unique properties after being functionalised.

Related categories: perovskite quantum dots, carbon nanodots


  1. Iijima, S (1991). Helical microtubules of graphitic carbon. Nature 354, 56–58.
  2. Paradise, M., & Goswami, T. (2007). Carbon nanotubes – Production and industrial applications. Materials & Design, 28(5), 1477–1489.
  3. Kong, J., Franklin, N. R., Zhou, C., Chapline, M. G., Peng, S., Cho, K., & Dai, H. (2000). Nanotube molecular wires as chemical sensors. Science, 287(5453), 622–625.
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