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Color carbon nanotube fibers have been prepared for the first time by Tsinghua University

Time : 2022-07-18 Hits : 37

Because of its low density, high strength, high toughness, high flexibility, high conductivity, low coefficient of thermal expansion and other multi-functional characteristics, carbon nanotube fibers are considered to be important raw materials for the preparation of super fibers, transparent conductive materials, next-generation carbon based chips, and have great potential applications in the fields of intelligent wearable, aerospace, national defense and military industry.

However, due to its strong absorption capacity of visible light, carbon nanotubes are considered to be the blackest material in the world, and its surface is highly crystalline and chemically inert, so it is impossible to use conventional methods to chemically dye them, resulting in its monotonous black that can not meet the requirements of fashionable products, which greatly limits its application in the fields of flexible wearable devices, intelligent fabrics and so on. In addition, as a typical carbon material, carbon nanotubes are easy to burn in high-temperature aerobic environment, which also limits its application in aerospace and other fields to a great extent.


Recently, the research team of Tsinghua University has made an important breakthrough in the controllable preparation of high-performance color carbon nanotube fibers, and prepared color carbon nanotube fibers for the first time. This nanotube fiber has excellent flame retardancy and durability, which solves the long-standing problem that carbon nanotubes are difficult to be colored and flammable, significantly improves its performance advantages, and expands its application fields.

Inspired by the structural color in nature, researchers first proposed the idea of using the principle of structural coloring to realize the colorization of carbon nanotubes. Using atomic layer deposition technology to cover a layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) dense coating with a thickness of only 50 ~ 300nm on the surface of carbon nanotube fibers can make the surface of carbon nanotube fibers show bright colors. By studying the chromogenic mechanism of carbon nanotube fibers, it is found that when the incident light reaches the surface of carbon nanotube fibers coated with TiO2 layer, most of the incident light produces reflection, scattering or refraction on the surface of TiO2 layer, except that a small part of it is absorbed. Due to the difference between the reflectivity and refractive index of visible light between TiO2 and carbon nanotube, the TiO2 layer and the surface of carbon nanotube fibers have thin-film interference, Thus, the carbon nanotube fibers coated with TiO2 layer produce brilliant colors. By changing the type and thickness of oxides (such as zinc oxide, aluminum oxide, magnesium oxide, silicon oxide, etc. in addition to TiO2), the color change of the surface of carbon nanotube fibers can be achieved. This method has good universality and can be applied to any type of carbon nanotube fibers.

Researchers also found that the colored carbon nanotube fiber has excellent properties: first, there is a chemical bond between the oxide coating and the surface of carbon nanotube fiber, which makes it have strong adhesion; The structural color of carbon nanotubes based on oxide coating shows super durability and can withstand 2000 washes and high-intensity ultraviolet radiation for more than 10 months; Carbon nanotube fibers covered with oxide coating have significant flame retardancy. Compared with pure carbon nanotube fibers, they still do not burn after 8 hours of contact with the flame, and can maintain a complete structure. In addition, the oxide coating has little effect on the original electrical and mechanical properties of carbon nanotube fibers.

This kind of carbon nanotube structure coloring technology based on inorganic oxide coating significantly improves the intrinsic properties of carbon nanotubes and effectively broadens their application fields. Relevant research was published on "science advances" under the title of "superdurableand fire retired structural coloring of carbon nanotubes".

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