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Farjand • Aug 10, 2011

Nottingham Scientists Invents Ways To Use Graphene As Chemical Reactors In Data Storage Applications

Computer storage systems are gaining a foothold in the market. In the present era, almost every month, we have a breakthrough achieved in the data storage area. University of Nottingham has similarly tapped the properties of Carbon nanotubes to make the data storage devices more powerful and reduce their size.

The physical properties of graphene nanoribbons as researched by University of Nottingham scientists render them more suitable for applications in electronic and spintronic devices than their parent material graphene. Image Credit: University of Nottingham

It is a common knowledge that any atom when present in a carbon nanotube behaves differently than its "free" or uncombined counterpart. The molecules so formed have very different properties than the rest of the molecules. Moreover the nanotube molecules are found useful with regards to data storage. In a multidisciplinary research led by Dr Andrei Khlobystov of University of Nottingham scientists have found out that nanotubes can be used nano sized chemical reactors with reactions occurring in between Carbon and Sulfur. The team consists of the nanoscientists and theoretical scientists From University of Nottingham and electron microscopists from Ulm University, Germany.

The study suggests that the reactions between Carbon and Sulfur lead to the formation of thin carbon strips which are form of Graphene. The new form of Graphene is known as graphene nanoribbon. However difficult it may sound, the process is simple. The researchers have to deal with helical shape of these nanoribbons to control and modify their properties to suit our requirements. The helical shape give scientists an easier control over the properties like electrical conductivity, optical magnetic and others than if it would have been straight pipe like structure.

This is really a remarkable breakthrough considering the fact that scientists were working with really tiny particles which is less than 80,000 times the diameter of human hair. The present research will give us the power to blend the knowledge and data accumulated over years to differ the properties of material. The possible areas where this research will find wide applications are the present day switches and actuators. If this study commercializes then we will see things like nano switches, nano actuators and nano sized computer peripheral circuits. The study published in the journal Nature Materials shows that to achieve all the above mentioned points, the key is to control the chemical conductivity of this latest Graphene.

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