The thermodynamics of solvation can drive otherwise wire-like nanotubes to form coils. This was discovered by researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and their colleagues at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology. The team explains that given small enough droplets of oil-in-water or water-in-oil emulsions, both hydrophobic carbon nanotubes and hydrophilic nanofilaments, such as oxidized carbon nanotubes, and palladium and manganese oxide nanowires, can be deformed by trapping within the droplet.
The process involves getting the right mix of oil and water to allow one droplet to pull in a nanowire or tube and deform it into a coil. Such emulsion systems might allow nanoscopic entities to be processed in a much more uniform manner as well as opening up the ability to manipulate and engineer them into useful and functional architectures on this tiny scale.
- General Methodology of Using Oil-in-Water and Water-in-Oil Emulsions for Coiling Nanofilaments,
Liyong Chen, Suzhu Yu, Hong Wang, Jun Xu, Cuicui Liu, Wen Han Chong, Hongyu Chen,
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013.