By depositing nanoparticles onto a charged surface, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have crafted nanotubes from silicon that are flexible and nearly as soft as rubber.
"Resembling miniature scrolls, the nanotubes could prove useful as catalysts, guided laser cavities and nanorobots," said Sahraoui Chaieb, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Illinois and a researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
To create their flexible nanotubes, Chaieb and his colleagues – physics professor Munir Nayfeh and graduate research assistant Adam Smith – start with a colloidal suspension of silicon nanoparticles (each particle is about 1 nanometer in diameter) in alcohol. By applying an electric field, the researchers drive the nanoparticles to the surface of a positively charged substrate, where they form a thin film.
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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