Carbon nanotubes are used to form the Möbius belt

Analog image of a carbon nanostrip in the form of a Mobius strip Image source: Segawa et al

A small piece of carbon nanotubes starts from scratch to form a tiny Möbius band—a single-sided surface created by the twisted band. This result was recently published in Nature-Synthesis.

One can imagine cutting a carbon nanotube into thin slices to get a strip. But these tubes are so small that they are difficult to operate. They can’t be cut into cylindrical bands — what chemists call carbon nanostrips, which may be caused by strong molecular forces at the nanoscale.

However, there is a way to prepare carbon nanoscale. In 2017, Yasutomo Segawa and colleagues at the Japan Institute of Molecular Sciences demonstrated that they could assemble smaller molecular units piece by piece through a series of chemical reactions.

Now, the team has gone a step further and constructed a Mobius strip of carbon nanoscale. To do this, they modified the chemical process of constructing carbon nanostrips, not using even-numbered repeating units to form carbon nanostrips, but using odd numbers.

“The ultimate goal of organic chemistry is to create all possible molecular structures.” Segawa said, “Our research results are a big step towards this goal. ”

After performing an improved chemical reaction, Segawa’s team used high-resolution spectroscopy to confirm that the resulting structure was indeed the Möbius belt.

Nicole Grobert of the University of Oxford in the U.K. says that while the immediate use of the carbon Möbius belt may not be clear, the skills needed to make it could help address other challenges in nanoengineering and chemistry.

“Even if the precise application of this carbon Mobius belt may not be obvious to those who study it, if they can extend this chemical ‘magic’ to larger systems and achieve ultimate control over larger carbon systems, then they can start thinking about the upgrading and expansion of wet chemical technology.” Grobert said. (Source: China Science Daily Wang Fang)

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