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Issue 3, 2008
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Spontaneous macroscopic carbon nanotube alignment via colloidal suspension in hexagonal columnar lyotropic liquid crystals

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Abstract

The self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules in aqueous solution into lyotropic liquid crystals (LCs), characterised by soft yet long-range ordered nanoscale structures, constitutes a fascinating phenomenon at the heart of soft matter science which can be employed in a manifold of creative ways. Particularly interesting structures may arise as a result of functionalisation of the LC with appropriate guest molecules, adopting the order of their host. Here we combine cat- and anionic surfactants to form a liquid-crystalline colloidal suspension of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which by virtue of the spontaneously formed hexagonal columnar LC structure are uniaxially aligned over macroscopic areas. The nanotube concentration can be so high, with sufficiently uniform alignment, that the mixture becomes a fluid linear polariser, the anisotropic optical properties of CNTs having been transferred to macroscopic scale by the LC. Moreover, thin and highly aligned filaments can be drawn and deposited in selected directions on arbitrary surfaces, after which the LC template can be rinsed away. Combined with recently developed methods for CNT fractionation according to chirality, the technique would yield an unprecedented degree of control in the practical realisation of carbon nanotube-based devices and materials.

Graphical abstract: Spontaneous macroscopic carbon nanotube alignment via colloidal suspension in hexagonal columnar lyotropic liquid crystals

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Oct 2007, accepted on 29 Nov 2007 and first published on 17 Jan 2008


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B715683A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2008,4, 570-576
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    Spontaneous macroscopic carbon nanotube alignment via colloidal suspension in hexagonal columnar lyotropic liquid crystals

    G. Scalia, C. von Bühler, C. Hägele, S. Roth, F. Giesselmann and J. P. F. Lagerwall, Soft Matter, 2008, 4, 570
    DOI: 10.1039/B715683A

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