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Sci Rep. 2012;2:363. doi: 10.1038/srep00363. Epub 2012 Apr 13.

Covalently bonded three-dimensional carbon nanotube solids via boron induced nanojunctions.


The establishment of covalent junctions between carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and the modification of their straight tubular morphology are two strategies needed to successfully synthesize nanotube-based three-dimensional (3D) frameworks exhibiting superior material properties. Engineering such 3D structures in scalable synthetic processes still remains a challenge. This work pioneers the bulk synthesis of 3D macroscale nanotube elastic solids directly via a boron-doping strategy during chemical vapour deposition, which influences the formation of atomic-scale "elbow" junctions and nanotube covalent interconnections. Detailed elemental analysis revealed that the "elbow" junctions are preferred sites for excess boron atoms, indicating the role of boron and curvature in the junction formation mechanism, in agreement with our first principle theoretical calculations. Exploiting this material's ultra-light weight, super-hydrophobicity, high porosity, thermal stability, and mechanical flexibility, the strongly oleophilic sponge-like solids are demonstrated as unique reusable sorbent scaffolds able to efficiently remove oil from contaminated seawater even after repeated use.

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