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The combination of graphene nanoribbons made with a process developed at Rice University and a common polymer could someday be of critical importance to healing damaged spinal cords in people.
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Graphene nanoribbons could form walls and arcs on substrates that could lead to 100 trillion FETs per sq. centimeter - keeping Moore's Law alive.

Graphene Nanoribbons

I have so far published >39 papers detailing our progress in the synthesis, derivatization and use of graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) in many materials. The first synthesis from multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) using an acidic oxidation produced GNRs with many defects that lowered their conductivity and usefulness for composites. However, the addition of a weaker acid to the oxidation mixture led to the synthesis of GNRs with fewer defects and the process is now licensed to EMD-Merck. We then found that MWCNTs could be split using potassium vapor and later a sodium/potassium alloy in the liquid phase. The splitting in the liquid phase produced intermediate materials with anions along the GNR edges that could be functionalized using alkyl iodides. The alkyl functionalized GNRs were used in radio-frequency-transparent, electrically conductive GNR thin films as deicing heating layers; in polyurethane composite film for improved gas barrier and mechanical performances; and in dispersible ferromagnetic GNR stacks with enhanced electrical percolation properties in a magnetic field, along with other applications. I directed the research that is detailed in the following papers.

Papers

a. Kosynkin, D. V.; Higginbotham, A. L.; Sinitskii, A.; Lomeda, J. R.; Dimiev, A.; Price, B. K.; Tour, J. M. Longitudinal Unzipping of Carbon Nanotubes to Form Graphene Nanoribbons. Nature 2009, 458, 872-826.
b. Higginbotham, A. L.; Kosynkin, D. V.; Sinitskii, A.; Sun, Z.; Tour, J. M. Low-Defect Graphene Oxide Nanoribbons from Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes, ACS Nano 2010, 4, 2059-2069.
c. Kosynkin, D. V.; Lu, W.; Sinitskii, A.; Pera, G.; Sun, Z.; Tour, J. M. Highly Conductive Graphene Nanoribbons by Longitudinal Splitting of Carbon Nanotubes Using Potassium Vapor, ACS Nano 2011, 5, 968-974.
d. Lu, W.; Ruan, G.; Genorio, B.; Zhu, Y.; Novosel, B.; Tour, J. M. Functionalized Graphene Nanoribbons via Anionic Polymerization Initiated by Alkali Metal-Intercalated Carbon Nanotubes. ACS Nano, 2013, 7, 2669–2675.

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Smalley-Curl Institute and the NanoCarbon Center
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