Jefferson Lab’s Free-Electron Laser used to explore the fundamental science of how and why nanotubes form, paying close attention to the atomic and molecular details
Scientists and technologists of all stripes are working intensively to explore the possibilities of an extremely strong and versatile cylinder so tiny that millions -- which in bunches look like an ebony snowflake -- could fit easily on the tip of a pin. The objects in question are known as carbon nanotubes, first discovered in 1991 as the elongated form of an all-carbon molecule.
Sometimes called CNTs, nanotubes take up an extremely small space but can connect together materials with different properties, even as their own properties can be adjusted depending on formulation. The tubes’ "aspect ratio" is enormous: that is, they are very long but not wide, and like an ultra-strong rope, can be extended without sacrificing strength. CNTs have potential applications in molecular and quantum computing and as components for microelectromechanical sensors, or MEMS. The tubes could also function as a "lab on a chip," with attached microelectronics and components that could detect toxins and nerve agents in vanishingly small concentrations.
Linda Ware | EurekAlert!
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