Due to the hollow interior of carbon nano-tubes, a variety of inorganic and organic materials have been successfully encapsulated within their walls. Structural characterisation at the atomic level by high resolution electron microscopy has shown that the structures and atomic distances of these materials inside the filled single walled nano-tubes (SWNTs) are markedly different from the structure of the same material in bulk form. Therefore, the encapsulated material will have different physical and chemical properties compared to those of the bulk materials, as already reported. The extensive range and variation of new nano-materials that can be encapsulated in the nano-scale and the exciting possibility of useful properties underlies the motivation for the pro posed research programme in this new nano world of chemistry and physics. Our aim is to prepare new filled SWNTs and then study their structures, physical properties and explore their potential applications. From the fundamental point of view this program should cast light on the relationship between atomic structure and physical properties of solids.
We propose to synthesize and study the use of filled SWNTs:
a) to prepare nano-scaled semi-conductor materials,
b) to improve the dispersion of carbon nano-tubes and
c) to prepare nanocomposite materials.
There are at present no published examples on any these topics, since most work has been done using empty carbon nano-tubes and not with filled ones. The Oxford group was the first to fill SWNTs and has substantial experience in the methods for filling and techniques for characterization. Previous experiments in Oxford have shown that semi-conducting materials can be encapsulated in SWNTs (e.g. HgTe and SnSe) but physical properties have yet to be determined. The us e and applications of filled SWNTs is a fundamentally new approach to the development of nano-sciences and nanotechnologies.
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