(42d) Chemically Driven, Carbon Nanotube-Guided Thermopower Waves

Authors: 
Strano, M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abrahamson, J., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Choi, W. J., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Song, C., Sungkyunkwan University
Han, J. H., Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Coupling an exothermic chemical reaction with a nanotube or nanowire possessing high axial

thermal conductivity creates a self propagating reactive wave along its length. Such waves are

realized using a 7 nm cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine (TNA) annular shell around a multi-walled

carbon nanotube and are amplified by more than 100 times the bulk TNA value, propagating more

than 3 m/s, with an effective thermal conductivity of 1.00 ± 0.35 kW/m/K at 2860 K. This wave

produces a concomitant electrical pulse of disproportionately high specific power, as large as 7

kW/kg, that we identify as a thermopower wave. The specific power of such thermopower waves

demonstrates an unusual inverse scaling with system size, highlighting their utility as sub-micron

and nano-sized pulse power sources. The reaction also produces an anisotropic pressure wave of

exceedingly high total impulse per mass of 300 N-s/kg and specific impulse per total mass (5.5

s/µg) having applications to micro-propulsion and actuators.