"NANOTECH: Low-temp polymer nanotubes foretell plastic circuits"
Chemists at Central Michigan University have grown carbon nanotubes at a record-low 175 degrees C using a polymer type known as dendrimers as the substrate. "This is the first time anyone has grown carbon nanotubes directly from a dendrimer catalyst at temperatures low enough that the dendrimer is not destroyed," said CMU professor Bradley Fahlman, lead researcher on the project. Whereas conventional polymers grow in long, tangled chains, dendrimers branch out from a core in a symmetrical, tree-like arrangement. In the growth process, the ends of one generation of branches sprout new polymer chains, creating a next-generation shell. The process grows nanotubes from the ends of the dendrimer's branches. Functionalizing the tubes with metal, semiconducting or photoelectric molecules will create materials with varied properties, the researchers said.