In situ evidence for chirality-dependent growth rates of individual carbon nanotubes

Nat Mater. 2012 Jan 29;11(3):213-6. doi: 10.1038/nmat3231.


Chiral-selective growth of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) remains a great challenge that hinders their use in applications such as electronics and medicine. Recent experimental and theoretical reports have begun to address this problem by suggesting that selectivity may be achieved during nucleation by changing the catalyst composition or structure. Nevertheless, to establish a rational basis for chiral-selective synthesis, the underlying mechanisms governing nucleation, growth, and termination of SWNTs must be better understood. To this end, we report the first measurements of growth rates of individual SWNTs through in situ Raman spectroscopy and correlate them with their chiral angles. Our results show that the growth rates are directly proportional to the chiral angles, in agreement with recent theoretical predictions. Importantly, the evidence singles out the growth stage as responsible for the chiral distribution-distinct from nucleation and termination which might also affect the final product distribution. Our results suggest a route to chiral-selective synthesis of SWNTs through rational synthetic design strategies based on kinetic control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman


  • Nanotubes, Carbon