56th CEMS Colloquium


Prof. Sumio Iijima (Meijo University)


17:30 - 18:30, December 20, 2017 (Wednesday)


Okochi-Hall, RIKEN


Discovery of Carbon Nanotubes


Carbon nanotube was discovered and reported in 1991. Since then, its name has been introduced often in the chemistry text books of Japanese high schools. The first paper reporting the carbon nanotubes has been cited 44,700 times by Nov. 2017 according to the Google Citation and its number still increasing. It has been fascinated by many researchers because of its extraordinary structure that has not been found before. Its typical properties can be summarized below. (1) The CNTs has a cylindrical form of a nano-meter size and all the carbon atom coordination of composing of a tube can be specified, so that the abinitio calculation is available for predicting properties of a given carbon nanotube, which makes possible to compare the calculation and experiment in details. (2) Cylinder dimeter and chirality of a CNT give rise to a unique electronic property. (3)There are a variety of approaches to grow the CNTs and control of the structures. The approaches are providing interesting research subjects relating to fundamental science. (4)There are huge expectations on the CNTs from various fields of industry.

Now, I would like to talk about the background of the discovery of carbon nanotubes. Simply, its discovery can be said to be serendipitous. The way to reach the discovery was my research carrier itself and in a sense its discovery might be called inevitable. It cannot be described without saying about electron microscopy because a study of nanomaterials is needed inevitably. I encountered TEM for the first time when I was a graduate student, and I was fortunate to record successfully atomic resolution HRTEM pictures of a crystal soon after starting to work as a PD researcher in the US. During my stay in the States for 12 years I have experienced with many nano-structured materials using HRTEM, and increased a possibility of finding the carbon nanotubes.

In my talk, I would like to speak about encountering of TEM, excellent teachers, definition of the discovery, raising a possibility for a finding by changing a laboratory, industrial applications of CNTs, future works, and so on.