Carbon nanotubes are fullerene-related structures which consist of graphene cylinders closed at either end with caps containing pentagonal rings. They were discovered in 1991 by the Japanese electron microscopist Sumio Iijima who was studying the material deposited on the cathode during the arc-evaporation synthesis of fullerenes. He found that the central core of the cathodic deposit contained a variety of closed graphitic structures including nanoparticles and nanotubes, of a type which had never previously been observed. A short time later, Thomas Ebbesen and Pulickel Ajayan, from Iijimas lab, showed how nanotubes could be produced in bulk quantities by varying the arc-evaporation conditions. This paved the way to an explosion of research into the physical and chemical properties of carbon nanotubes in laboratories all over the world.
Additional Particle Information
S. Iijima, M. Yudasaka, R. Yamada, S. Bandow, K. Suenaga, F. Kokai, K. Takahashi, Nano-aggregates of single-walled graphitic carbon nano-horns. Chem. Phys. Lett., 309, 165 (1999).