Tuesday, January 08, 2008

US Patent 7316789 - Liquid crystal polymer matrix for carbon nanotube alignment


This patent from IBM teaches using an interesting technique of using a liquid crystal polymer matrix to align carbon nanotubes to achieve improved thermal conductivity. Claim 1 reads:

1. A structure comprising a conducting liquid crystal polymer matrix comprising carbon nanotubes aligned in the matrix located between opposed surfaces wherein the conducting liquid crystal polymer matrix contains crosslinked liquid crystal polymers.

Unfortunately, the patent examiner may have missed some pertinent prior art from Nano-Proprietary-US Patent 6,312,303

which teaches in column 2, lines 18-27

"The present invention exploits the fact that carbon nanotubes are similar to elongated particles (molecules), which can be placed with a host phase of ordered elongated particles. Such ordered elongated particles could be liquid crystals, ordered metal fibers in a liquid under a magnetic or electric field, geometrically anizotropic particles, anizotropic crystals (elongated) possessing a strong dipole moment, etc. By selecting the size of the nanotubes with respect to the host phase, the present invention aligns the carbon nanotube fibers by aligning the particles of the host phase."