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Tiny Möbius strip fashioned from carbon nanotube building blocks

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We could always make Mobius strip from paper, but it is now possible to use molecular building blocks of carbon nanotubes to make smaller versions of these unusual geometric objects.



May 19, 2022

Simulation image of Mobius strip of carbon nanotubes

Segawa et al.

Short sections of carbon nanotubes constructed from scratch form a small Mobius strip. This is a one-sided surface that results from a twisted band.

Imagine being able to salami slice carbon nanotubes to form a band. However, the tubes are so small that they are difficult to operate. Paper tubes can be due to strong intramolecular forces on the nanometer scale, so they cannot be cut into cylindrical bands that chemists call carbon nanobelts.

However, there is one way to create a carbon nanobelt. In 2017, Yasutomo Segawa and his colleagues at the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki, Japan, showed that through a series of chemical reactions, one can be assembled from a collection of smaller molecular units.

Now Segawa and his team go one step further to create the Mobius strip of carbon nanobelts. To build it, they modified the chemical process for building carbon nanobelts – instead of using even repeating units to form the belt, they used odd numbers.

“The ultimate goal of organic chemistry is to create all possible molecular structures,” says Segawa. “Our achievements are a big step towards that goal.”

After performing the modified chemistry, Segawa and his team used high-resolution spectroscopy to confirm that the resulting structure was actually Mobius strip.

Nicole Grobert of Oxford University may not be clear about the immediate use of Carbon Mobius strip, but the sophistication needed to create it could help other challenges in nanoengineering and chemistry. Say there is.

“The exact application of this Mobius band may not even be obvious to the researchers who studied it, but they have extended magical chemistry to larger systems and are the ultimate in larger carbon systems. If you can achieve control, you can start thinking about upscaling and scaling to wet chemistry techniques, “Grobert said.

Journal reference: Nature synthesisDOI: 10.1038 / s44160-022-00075-8

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