The self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules in aqueous solution into lyotropic liquid crystals (LCs), characterised by soft yet long-range ordered nanoscale structures, constitutes a fascinating phenomenon at the heart of soft matter science which can be employed in a manifold of creative ways. Particularly interesting structures may arise as a result of functionalisation of the LC with appropriate guest molecules, adopting the order of their host. Here we combine cat- and anionic surfactants to form a liquid-crystalline colloidal suspension of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which by virtue of the spontaneously formed hexagonal columnar LC structure are uniaxially aligned over macroscopic areas. The nanotube concentration can be so high, with sufficiently uniform alignment, that the mixture becomes a fluid linear polariser, the anisotropic optical properties of CNTs having been transferred to macroscopic scale by the LC. Moreover, thin and highly aligned filaments can be drawn and deposited in selected directions on arbitrary surfaces, after which the LC template can be rinsed away. Combined with recently developed methods for CNT fractionation according to chirality, the technique would yield an unprecedented degree of control in the practical realisation of carbon nanotube-based devices and materials. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2008.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics
Scalia, G., Von Bühler, C., Hägele, C., Roth, S., Giesselmann, F., & Lagerwall, J. P. F. (2008). Spontaneous macroscopic carbon nanotube alignment via colloidal suspension in hexagonal columnar lyotropic liquid crystals. Soft Matter, 4(3), 570 - 576. https://doi.org/10.1039/b715683a