Chemically driven carbon-nanotube-guided thermopower waves

Wonjoon Choi, Seunghyun Hong, Joel T. Abrahamson, Jae Hee Han, Changsik Song, Nitish Nair, Seunghyun Baik, Michael S. Strano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Citations (Scopus)


Theoretical calculations predict that by coupling an exothermic chemical reaction with a nanotube or nanowire possessing a high axial thermal conductivity, a self-propagating reactive wave can be driven along its length. Herein, such waves are realized using a 7-nm cyclotrimethylene trinitramine annular shell around a multiwalled carbon nanotube and are amplified by more than 104 times the bulk value, propagating faster than 2 m s -1, with an effective thermal conductivity of 1.2±80.2 kW m-1 K 1 at 2,860 K. This wave produces a concomitant electrical pulse of disproportionately high specific power, as large as 7 kW kg-1, which we identify as a thermopower wave. Thermally excited carriers flow in the direction of the propagating reaction with a specific power that scales inversely with system size. The reaction also evolves an anisotropic pressure wave of high total impulse per mass (300 N s kg-1). Such waves of high power density may find uses as unique energy sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-429
Number of pages7
JournalNature Materials
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010 May
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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