Happy Nanoween

Scene at MIT: A grad student's research project unexpectedly yields a spooky message made from millions of carbon nanotubes.
Kaiser Wardle CNT Patterned Boo Halloween Web
What says "Happy Halloween" better than colorized carbon nanotubes? Image, Ashley Kaiser, MIT.

As part of her research on nanomaterials, PhD student Ashley Kaiser recently grew millions of carbon nanotubes — each incredibly strong and only 1/10,000 the width of a human hair — and immersed them in a guiding liquid. Upon drying, the resulting nanotube "forest" created a recognizable spooky pattern.

"The initial motivation behind this work was to densify carbon nanotube forests into predictable, cellular patterns by gently wetting them with a liquid, a process that can help enable scalable nanomaterial manufacturing," says Kaiser, who studies in the lab of Professor Brian Wardle. "The pattern was not precisely planned. While I knew that the carbon nanotubes would form cell-like shapes, I didn't know that these three particular sections would spell out 'Boo' so nicely, so it was a pretty special find."

The image was captured using a scanning electron microscope, which produces images in greyscale; the orange color was added later as a special effect. "It was exciting to find this under the microscope, and I thought that it would be great for Halloween the moment I saw it!" Kaiser says.

back to newsletterPAPER: Morphology control of aligned carbon nanotube pins formed via patterned capillary densification 

– William Litant, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
MIT News Office | October 31, 2018

Updated February 20, 2019