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Nat Mater. 2004 Sep;3(9):610-4. Epub 2004 Aug 1.

Carbon nanotube filters.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India-221005.


Over the past decade of nanotube research, a variety of organized nanotube architectures have been fabricated using chemical vapour deposition. The idea of using nanotube structures in separation technology has been proposed, but building macroscopic structures that have controlled geometric shapes, density and dimensions for specific applications still remains a challenge. Here we report the fabrication of freestanding monolithic uniform macroscopic hollow cylinders having radially aligned carbon nanotube walls, with diameters and lengths up to several centimetres. These cylindrical membranes are used as filters to demonstrate their utility in two important settings: the elimination of multiple components of heavy hydrocarbons from petroleum-a crucial step in post-distillation of crude oil-with a single-step filtering process, and the filtration of bacterial contaminants such as Escherichia coli or the nanometre-sized poliovirus ( approximately 25 nm) from water. These macro filters can be cleaned for repeated filtration through ultrasonication and autoclaving. The exceptional thermal and mechanical stability of nanotubes, and the high surface area, ease and cost-effective fabrication of the nanotube membranes may allow them to compete with ceramic- and polymer-based separation membranes used commercially.

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