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  • Caltech Reports Nanotech Advance
Aug 2004
PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 26 -- A research project funded by Arrowhead Research Corp. has resulted in a reported breakthrough in carbon nanotube technology. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has filed for patent protection on an invention, and Arrowhead has the right to obtain an exclusive license from Caltech. Arrowhead and its subsidiaries have a portfolio of nanotech intellectual property comprising approximately 100 US and foreign patents and patent applications.

In an article published in Nano Letters, an American Chemical Society publication, a team of researchers at Caltech led by C. Patrick Collier report a new method for coating single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) attached to atomic force microscope (AFM) tips with conformal fluorocarbon polymers formed in an inductively coupled plasma reactor.

Atomic force microscopes are used to analyze materials at the molecular and atomic levels. When attached to AFM tips, carbon nanotubes can be used for ultrahigh-resolution imaging and manipulation at the nanoscale. The invention presents several advantages in using SWNTs for AFM imaging. The polymer coating provides a chemically inert and electrically insulating outer layer and mechanically stabilizes the attached nanotube, which enables imaging in liquids without the need for an intervening adhesive. Further, the coating can be etched away to expose the tip end of the nanotube, resulting in a highly conductive nanoelectrode. The nanoelectrode can be used for more precise sensing or triggering of local bioelectrochemical reactions in liquids.

R. Bruce Stewart, President of Arrowhead, said: "In addition to serving as a valuable research tool for our sponsored research group here at Caltech, the invention might be used to develop novel molecular devices."

Arrowhead, based in Pasadena, Calif., funds research at universities in pioneering scientific areas, primarily nanotechnology.

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