AsianScientist (Jul. 1, 2020) -Right here’s a riddle for you: What’s lighter than a feather however stronger than metal?
If you happen to guessed carbon nanotubes—tiny hole tubes made up of carbon atoms—you then’re proper. Although carbon nanotubes can solely be seen underneath an electron microscope, they’re one of many strongest supplies on earth. Accordingly, carbon nanotubes have traditionally been used as an additive to different supplies. Within the 17th century, as an example, they have been used to forge the legendary Damascus swords whereas right now, they’re used to fabricate light-weight, damage-resistant plane components.
The event of this surprise materials might be partially attributed to Assistant Professor Akira Koshio of Mie College. Much like different nice scientific discoveries like penicillin, carbon nanotubes have been found accidentally. Whereas analyzing numerous carbon supplies underneath an electron microscope in 1991, nanotechnology pioneer Professor Sumio Iijima of Meijo College serendipitously stumbled upon peculiar elongated objects that turned out to be multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Nonetheless, it took years for Iijima, alongside along with his Meijo College colleague Professor Masako Yudasaka and Koshio, to search out a safer and extra environment friendly means to provide nanotubes.
For his or her groundbreaking discovery of carbon nanotubes and their improvement of a sustainable manufacturing course of, the three have been acknowledged with the European Inventor Award in 2015. On this interview with Asian Scientist Journal, Koshio provides us an replace on his analysis and shares his ideas on the alternatives and challenges of utilizing carbon nanotubes.
- How would you summarize your analysis in a tweet?
We’re growing strategies to provide nanomaterials together with nanotubes, nanowires, nanoparticles, nanoribbons and nanosheets, consider their constructions and properties and apply them as novel supplies. Not too long ago, now we have additionally been conducting analysis on metal-encapsulated carbon nanotubes and carbon nanoparticles that may be fashioned by way of the arc discharge methodology, in addition to silicon nanowires and nanoribbons that may be fashioned by the gasoline section response or hydrothermal methodology.
- Describe a accomplished analysis venture that you’re proudest of.
One factor I’m proud to have achieved is growing a high-frequency plasma methodology that may produce carbon nanotubes with out utilizing a steel catalyst. By instantly vaporizing strong carbon rods with high-temperature plasma, we’re capable of create high-purity carbon nanotubes that don’t include metals that hurt the human physique and contaminate supplies. This metal-free methodology signifies that carbon nanotubes can be used within the subject of biomedicine.
- What do you hope to perform along with your analysis within the subsequent decade?
Nanostructures reminiscent of nanotubes, nanowires, nanoparticles, nanoribbons and nanosheets might be managed by altering their manufacturing circumstances. Nonetheless, they’re produced in numerous sizes, and numerous nanostructures usually type concurrently. This can be very tough to get only a single construction and measurement. The purpose is to type solely the nanostructures you need and freely type them the place you need. As a way to understand this within the subsequent ten years, it’s essential to develop know-how not just for nanostructure formation, but additionally evaluation and manipulation.
- Who (or what) motivated you to enter your subject of research?
Once I was an undergraduate scholar, studying a particular article about small spherical carbon particles often known as fullerenes in a Japanese journal referred to as Chemistry motivated me to maneuver into my present analysis subject. For the primary time, I realized that carbon atoms may type molecules like a soccer ball; I used to be fascinated by the geometrically stunning nanostructured world.
- What’s the greatest adversity that you just skilled in your analysis?
When producing carbon nanotubes by the arc discharge methodology, I found sure properties associated to gentle absorption. It was an surprising phenomenon, so I researched it for some time, however steadily shifted to a different analysis theme with out elucidating it. A couple of months later, one other group printed a paper in Nature on the identical phenomenon of sunshine absorption. I felt very upset, however on the identical time, I noticed that I ought to research extra deeply and speedily.
- What are the most important challenges dealing with the educational analysis neighborhood right now, and the way can we repair them?
At regional universities in Japan, the lower within the variety of school and college budgets is a major problem. Having fewer school will increase the workload, subsequently decreasing analysis time. Due to the discount in college budgets, researchers can’t proceed their analysis with out competitively acquiring exterior funding. This may increasingly have some deserves, however it could be tough to conduct analysis in new areas or exploratory analysis that finds new themes. I’m not positive how this problem might be solved.
- If you happen to had not develop into a scientist, what would you have got develop into as an alternative?
I may need been a technician repairing dwelling home equipment, electrical gear and equipment. I truly made and repaired a lot of the experimental gear utilized in our analysis.
- What do you do exterior of labor to loosen up? Do you have got any pursuits and hobbies?
I loosen up by exercising outside, doing actions reminiscent of biking, mountaineering and operating throughout holidays. Sometime, I wish to go to different Asian nations and go biking and trekking.
- If you happen to had the facility and sources to eradicate any world downside utilizing your analysis, which one would you remedy?
Using nanomaterials can cut back the scale of digital units. It is usually promising as a fabric for high-capacity secondary battery electrodes and high-efficiency photo voltaic panels. I consider that our analysis can contribute to vitality conservation world wide.
- What recommendation would you give to aspiring researchers in Asia?
I feel that analysis is like climbing a mountain with no summit. Nonetheless, once you climb, you will note an increasing number of landscapes that you haven’t seen earlier than, and a brand new world will unfold earlier than your eyes. Get pleasure from ‘mountaineering’ and discovering new surroundings by way of your analysis!
This text is from a month-to-month collection referred to as Asia’s Rising Scientists. Click on right here to learn different articles within the collection.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Journal; Picture: Akira Koshio.
Disclaimer: This text doesn’t essentially mirror the views of AsianScientist or its workers.