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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Nano Fabrication

Bent nanotubes, yes it’s a big deal. Follow the link for a cool picture.

Researchers at UCSD have made carbon nanotubes bent in sharp predetermined angles, a technical advance that could lead to use of the long, thin cylinders of carbon as tiny springs, tips for atomic force microscopes, smaller electrical connectors in integrated circuits, and in many other nanotechnology applications. In a paper published in the April 7, 2005, issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Sungho Jin, a professor of materials science at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, reported a technique to create bent nanotubes by manipulating the electric field during their growth and adjusting other conditions.

Joseph AuBuchon, a graduate student in Jin’s group, exploited the strong alignment of nanotube growth with the direction of electric field lines. After growing an aligned array of straight nanotubes, AuBuchon switched the orientation of electric field lines 90 degrees to make L-shaped tubes. He then made more orientation changes to make zigzags.

The simple fact is that nobody knows what uses these may have. The list of possible uses includes cantilevers for
atomic force microscopes, and compliant nanocircuit interconnects. The importance of this work is that it adds another technique to the, small but growing, nanofabrication toolkit. Mankind took hundreds of years to learn how to manipulate iron. The first person to learn to bend iron did not contemplate the horseshoe, the bearing or the internal combustion engine but understanding the technique enabled all of them.


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