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Name: Masoud
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: Outside U.S.
Date: February 2009

What is the easiest way to make a simple nanotube?

Making the nanotubes is not hard at all -- there are carbon nanotubes in your wood-burning fireplace probably right now. In fact, if you burn wood in air, the soot left behind will have nanotubes in it. There are also 'high tech' ways to make them, but burning wood is probably the easiest way.

The hard part is separating the tubes from the graphite/soot, and then separating all the different sizes and types of tubes. To fractionate the tubes into unique sizes and categories is very difficult! Although you only asked about small quantities, to then make and purify them on a large, industrial scale is also a significant challenge.

Hope this helps,
Burr Zimmerman

Hi Masoud,

First of all, I should say that a carbon nanotube is certainly not "simple"! The easiest way to make a carbon nanotube is to burn natural gas, or similar fuels with insufficient air supply. The soot that results, contains small quantities of carbon nanotubes. The problem is how to separate the nanotubes (which are, of course, submicroscopic) from the ordinary soot. All other methods such as laser ablation, require a lot of specialized equipment.

Bob Wilson

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