Smaller, faster computers, bullet proof t-shirts and itty-bitty robots, such are the promises of nanotechnology and the cylinder-shaped collection of carbon molecules known as nanotubes. But in order for these exciting technologies to hit the marketplace (who wouldn’t want an itty-bitty robot), scientists must understand how these miracle-molecules perform under all sorts of conditions. For, without nanoscience, there would be no nanotechnology.
Using an atomic force microscope, researchers prodded the nanotubes to see how much they give.
In a recent study, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with colleagues from the IBM Watson Research Center and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, found that while nanotubes are extremely stiff when pulled from the ends, they give when poked in the middle. The larger the radius, the softer they become. The finding, which is important for the development of nanoelectronics, is published in the May 6, 2005 edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.
“We know from previous studies that nanotubes are very stiff in the axial direction (end to end) but very little is known about their radial elasticity, mainly because when you’re working with tubes that small it’s very difficult to poke them without pushing them beyond the point where they will be irremediably damaged,” said Elisa Riedo, assistant professor of physics at Georgia Tech.
David Terraso | EurekAlert!
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