Researchers at the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST) have developed a novel method for synthesising carbon nanotubes directly on glass substrates at 750oC. This has wide-ranging implications in the fields of energy research, biomedicine and optoelectronics.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) find application in rechargeable batteries, flexible electronics, aerospace, transparent electrodes, touchscreens, supercapacitors and medicine, among other uses. 

However, conventional methods of synthesising CNT require high temperatures of ~1,000o C and metal catalysts such as iron, cobalt and nickel, which pose biocompatibility concerns for biomedical applications. But without these catalysts it’s costlier to produce CNTs, so there is a need to develop a cleaner, more sustainable manufacturing process. 

The IASST team’s method involves using a plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition technique (PECVD), where plasma is generated using a specially designed spiral fused hollow cathode source. This process obviates the need for elevated temperatures and transition metal catalyst. 

Furthermore, this synthesis is executed under atmospheric pressure, making it more cost-effective compared to other available methods. 

Several factors, including the plasma characteristics, substrate’s composition, temperature, and plasma pre-treatment significantly influence the CNT growth. Optimally, the pre-plasma treatment of the glass substrate at an elevated temperature enhances the surface area, exposing significantly more of its constituent elements directly to the surface.

Of the elements within the glass, sodium emerges as the primary catalyst for initiating CNT growth. It has also been observed that the sodium present in the CNTs can be easily removed by washing with deionised water. 

The finding marks a significant step towards addressing challenges in CNT synthesis and advancing its application in various fields, says a press release.

Here comes Syncubator

Dr Gajendra Singh and Dr Satyasheel Ramesh Pawar, together with Keshav Verma, a BTech mechanical engineering student of IIT-Mandi, have invented a ‘SynCubator’ — a neonatal incubator. The device has been chosen for the prestigious ‘Stanford Biodesign Innovators Garage’ programme.

Designed as a multifunctional neonatal incubator, SynCubator offers a unique solution to the challenges faced in transporting and providing critical care to newborns. Unlike traditional incubators, the device doubles as a standalone warmer and an incubator, adaptable to the specific needs of each infant. 

According to a press release, the rugged aluminium frame ensures high portability, allowing transportation using a regular four-wheelers, and it maintains a temperature of 35–38o C, and relative humidity of 50-70 per cent. It also grants access to all the probes available in an adult ambulance and enables continuous video monitoring of the baby through an android or IOS app. 

“Utilising a user-friendly mobile application, healthcare providers gain the ability to remotely monitor and adjust critical parameters such as temperature, humidity and oxygen concentration in real-time. Moreover, continuous video monitoring enables both medical professionals and parents to closely observe the newborn’s condition, irrespective of physical location,” the release says.