A Korean research team has developed the world’s first technology that enables the high-concentration dispersion of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene, which are regarded as next-generation electrode materials, without using dispersants.
According to the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) on October 16, a team led by Lee Geon-woong and Han Joong-tark from the Nano Carbon Materials Research Group of the Creative and Fundamental Research Division at KERI has successfully developed the industry’s first technology that allows the fabrication of highly conducting pastes that can easily be applied to printed electronics and research on nanocomposites. As a result, it is possible that carbon nanomaterials will be more widely used in various fields in the future.
Carbon nanomaterials such as CNTs and graphene have been considered to possibly replace existing steel or ceramic electric conductors due to high conductivity. To disperse carbon nanomaterials with a high concentration, it was necessary to use surfactants, which are insulating materials. Or, alternatively, many functional groups had to be introduced on the surface. However, by doing so, the high conductivity of carbon nanomaterials was damaged.
To address the problem, the research team developed a method that imitates multiple hydrogen bond arrays, easily found in protein structures or the spiral structure of DNA. The team overcame the van der Waals force between carbon nanomaterials by introducing a functional group where the damage of carbon nanomaterials can be minimized and four hydrogens can be combined at the same time. Thus, Lee and Han’s team made it possible to fabricate not only dilute solutions but also highly conducting pastes.
Dr. Han said, “This technology is so innovative that it may create carbon nanomaterials’ second boom.” The team already applied for a patent for its original technology and an applied patent at home and abroad, and is preparing for technology transfer at the moment.
This study was published online in the October 7 issue of Nature Communications, a bi-monthly scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.