Nanoscale tubules formed by exfoliation of potassium hexaniobate

Geoffrey B. Saupe, Chad C. Waraksa, Hyuk Nyun Kim, Yong J. Han, David M. Kaschak, Diana M. Skinner, Thomas E. Mallouk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

244 Scopus citations


The exfoliation of acid-exchanged K4Nb6O17 with tetra(n-butyl)ammonium hydroxide in water produces a colloidal suspension of individual sheets, which roll into loosely bound tubular structures. The tubule shape can be made permanent via precipitation of the colloid with alkali cations. Atomic force microscopy and transmission electron micrographs reveal that the tubules have outer diameters ranging from 15 to 30 nm and that they are 0.1 to 1 μm in length. The observed curling tendency, preferential folding, and cleavage angles of the individual sheets are interpreted in terms of the crystal structure of the parent solid, K4Nb6O17. The driving force for tubule formation appears to be relief of strain that is inherent in the asymmetric single sheets. This driving force is absent in bilayer colloids formed early in the exfoliation process, which are found only as flat sheets. Tubules in colloidal suspensions that have been subjected to turbulence have a tendency to unroll into flat sheets on surfaces, indicating that the forces controlling rolling and unrolling are closely balanced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1556-1562
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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