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Two Nanostructures are Better than One

SpecialChem / Nov 8, 2007

UWM researchers find new ways of creating more predictable carbon nanotube material Imagine using minuscule structures the size of molecules to harvest sunlight and convert it into electricity. Or employing the same structures to store hydrogen fuel so that it fits into a car's gas tank. Or replacing today's semiconductors with these structures, ushering in the next generation of small, powerful electronics. These technologies don't exist yet, but the work of a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is bringing them closer to reality with hybrid materials made with carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Junhong Chen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is pioneering better methods of making CNTs more predictable. CNTs are invisibly thin sheets of graphite that are rolled into a cylindrical shape. Chen's laboratory focuses on new uses for CNTs combined with nanoparticles, bits of matter that are nanoscale in all three dimensions. (A few nanometers are roughly 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

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