University of Cambridge > > BSS Formal Seminars > Protein Assisted Assembly of Carbon Nanotube into Functional Materials - joint with Nanoscience

Protein Assisted Assembly of Carbon Nanotube into Functional Materials - joint with Nanoscience

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Individual Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes (SWNTs) have extraordinary properties. An important challenge is to develop practical technologies for transforming this intractable, low density soot into macroscopic assemblies such as composites, sheets or fibers having properties that exploit the extraordinary electrical and mechanical properties of the individual molecule. In particular, the fabrication of such assemblies, effectively using the spectacular modulus and failure strength of individual SWN Ts coupled with other augmentative functions such as mechanical actuation would be a critical breakthrough to realizing their potential. In this talk, I will present two different approaches to achieving these goals. Self-assembly and specificity in biological systems derives from control of surfaces. Proteins and other biological materials have evolved diverse complementary surfaces that enable interactions that lead to self-assembly and specificity. We have identified a variety of peptides that give SWN Ts a customizable surface that not only facilitates separation and processing but can be interfaced with living cells. Moreover, through control of inter-peptide interactions, it is possible to assemble the hybrid nanostructures into macroscopic functional materials. We show that the self-assembly process of individual short SWN Ts wrapped by folded polypeptides into structures is truly hierarchical. I will also describe spinning continuous SWNT composite fibers having a higher toughness than spider silk or any other natural or synthetic fiber, as well as high tensile strength and modulus. Normalized to density, the strength and modulus is twice that of steel wire. We make fiber supercapacitors from our spun fibers and weave them into textiles. These nanotube composite fibers, which are easily woven or sewn into textiles, are quite interesting for artificial muscles and other electronic textile applications – such as distributed sensors, electronic interconnects, electromagnetic shielding, antennas, and batteries. Such applications and the origin of the attractive fiber properties will be discussed.

Note change of venue – Small Lecture Theatre

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