June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.68.1 - 13.68.9
A Nanotechnology Experiment for Undergraduate Engineering Programs: Carbon Nanotube Production using Electric Discharge Machining
A novel experiment for an undergraduate engineering course, the Engineering of Manufacturing Processes is described. The experiment demonstrates a process of manufacturing carbon nanotubes using a variation of the arc discharge method. Carbon nanotubes are synthesized in oil by electric discharge machining using two graphite electrodes. Pedagogical justifications and sustainability of the experiment within an undergraduate engineering curriculum are addressed.
In Spring 2004 and 2005 semesters a nanotechnology course was offered to junior/senior industrial engineering students. A three-week lecture portion of the course was dedicated to carbon nanotubes. Engineering students taking the course expressed interest in imaging carbon nanotubes. However, the cost of carbon nanotubes and instrumentation were prohibitive factors in implementing such an experiment.
In literature, carbon nanotubes are produced using an arc discharge method in various media like helium, liquid nitrogen, water and sodium chloride. Our research group devised a novel arc discharge method to produce carbon nanotubes in oil using electrical discharge machining, an over 50-year old technology. This discovery presented an opportunity to develop an undergraduate experiment dealing with synthesis of carbon nanotubes.
Carbon nanotubes, with their extraordinary mechanical, electrical and thermal characteristics, are on the forefront of nanotechnology commercialization. They are used in high- end bicycle frames, baseball bats, and hockey pucks, while carbon nanotube applications in computer monitors or energy storage devices are in developmental stages1. A Materials Today report2 on the top ten advances in materials science placed five nanotechnology topics among them, including carbon nanotubes. This increased importance of carbon nanotubes as an engineering material justifies their inclusion in undergraduate engineering education. In general, there exists a need to create sustainable nanotechnology modules within current engineering curricula and within required engineering courses. While many nanotechnology topics can be integrated without much difficulty into materials engineering curricula, this integration is often a challenge in other engineering disciplines. Carbon nanotube manufacturing topics could be integrated within manufacturing processes courses that exist as required courses in many undergraduate mechanical or industrial engineering programs.
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