Pure Appl. Chem., 2010, Vol. 82, No. 11, pp. 2097-2109
Published online 2010-08-06
Inorganically filled carbon nanotubes: Synthesis and properties
Abstract: Since the discovery of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in 1991, widespread research has been carried out to understand their useful physical and electronic properties and also to explore their use in devices. CNTs have many unique properties such as tunable electrical resistance, mechanical robustness, and high thermal conductivity, which when combined with other inorganic materials such as phosphors or superconductors could lead to hetero-structures with diverse functionality. We have been able to obtain mass production of such materials wherein CNTs form core-shell heterostructures with metals, semiconductors, insulators, and even metal-semiconductor heterojunctions. The emerging strategy employs a high-temperature chemical vapor deposition (CVD) technique and high heating rates. Interestingly, due to their high temperature stability, CNTs can act as a nanoreactor for production of exotic materials inside it. In this article, we take ZnS-filled CNTs as an example to explain our synthesis strategy. We explore the optical behavior of these complex materials, analyzing both their luminescence and degradation upon exposure to an electron beam. In addition, the mechanical response of filled CNTs has been evaluated individually inside a transmission electron microscope fitted with an atomic force microscopy–transmission electron microscopy (AFM–TEM) sample holder. Many applications can be envisioned for these nanostructures ranging from nanothermometers to photo-protective storage and delivery devices.