Researcher’s at the Australian National University have produced a new form of carbon nanoparticles called ‘nanofoam’. Nanofoam has a sooty foam morphology, but its most interesting characteristic is that it is magnetic.
The new carbon nanoparticulate material was produced by bombarding a carbon target with a laser in a chamber filled with Argon. The laser delivered up to 76 million pulses per second, resulting in the evaporation of carbon at 10,000°C. As the vapour cooled, carbon atoms steeled into clusters, which combined to form a spongy foam.
The nanofoam discovery was made by accident, with the materials being formed as a by-product when they were attempting to make carbon nanotubes and buckyballs.
While no applications exist for the material now, the researchers envisage it could be used to increase the resolution of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or used in cancer treatment to produce localised heat at tumour locations.