An iron carbide nanowire is squeezed through the center of a multi-walled carbon nanotube. Credit: Johannes Gutenberg University/Banhart
The nanotube finally collapses, pinching off the nanowire. Credit: Johannes Gutenberg University/Banhart
’Science’ paper details potential as nanoscale extruders, cylinders, and jigs
Bombarding a carbon nanotube with electrons causes it to collapse with such incredible force that it can squeeze out even the hardest of materials, much like a tube of toothpaste, according to an international team of scientists. Reporting in the May 26 issue of the journal Science, the researchers suggest that carbon nanotubes can act as minuscule metalworking tools, offering the ability to process materials as in a nanoscale jig or extruder.
Engineers use a variety of tools to manipulate and process metals. For example, handy "jigs" control the motion of tools, and extruders push or draw materials through molds to create long objects of a fixed diameter. The newly reported findings suggest that nanotubes could perform similar functions at the scale of atoms and molecules, the researchers say.
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