Researchers at the NanoScience Centre of the University of Jyväskylä and at Harvard University in the United States have discovered a new way to make nanomaterials.
Using computer simulations, the researchers have predicted that long and narrow graphene nanoribbons can be rolled into carbon nanotubes by means of twisting.
The basic idea is rather like twisting the ends of a strap. Researchers say the same process is robust and valid on the macro-, micro- and nanoscale and also allows experimental control, which has not been possible before.
The mechanism can be used to make various kinds of novel carbon nanotubes, to encapsulate molecules insides the tubes or to make tubules from ribbons made out of other planar nanomaterials.
For the past twenty years, carbon nanotubes have been described as rolled-up graphenes even though no-one ever really did the rolling. Today, nanotubes, along with many other nanomaterials, are made by atom-by-atom growth.
The results were published in Physical Review B. In addition to being given the status of Editor's Suggestion, the research was also highlighted in the Physics special journal of the American Physical Society.
The research, which has received funding from the Academy of Finland, used the computer resources of the Finnish IT Centre for Science (CSC), based in Espoo.