The organization of carbon nanotubes is an important but challenging issue. This Minireview focuses on a novel approach based on the use of liquid crystals as host for nanotube dispersion and ordering. With these self-organizing fluids it is possible to control the nanotube orientation on a macroscopic scale, as the orientational order of the liquid crystal, the direction of which can easily be selected and dynamically modulated, is transferred onto embedded carbon nanotubes. Both main classes of liquid crystals, thermotropics and lyotropics, have been used successfully. This reveals an aligning mechanism resulting from the liquid crystallinity per se, independent of specific molecular structures, although these can affect the degree of order and the quality of the tube dispersion. The enormous variety of systems that form liquid crystalline phases provides additional strength and potentialities to the liquidcrystal-based route towards nanotube alignment. The exploration of this new use of liquid crystals has just started, hence we can expect exciting developments in the years to come. © 2010 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry