A carbon nanotube sponge developed with help from ORNL researchers holds potential as an aid for oil spill cleanup. Simulations at ORNL explained how the addition of boron atoms encouraged the formation of so-called "elbow" junctions that help the nanotubes grow into a 3-D network.

The material's magnetic properties, caused by the team's use of an iron catalyst during the nanotube growth process, means it can be easily controlled or removed with a magnet in an oil cleanup scenario. This ability is an improvement over existing substances used in oil removal, which are often left behind after cleanup and can degrade the environment.

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Also: Learn how a metal 'wicking' process enhances carbon nanotube bonding strength.