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New video showing the atom-by-atom growth of carbon nanotubes reveals they rotate as they grow, much like the halting motion of a mechanical clock’s second hand.
VIDEO CREDIT: Video courtesy of S. Purcell, LPMCN/Université Lyon1/CNRS. Posted with permission from Nano Letters DOI: 10.1021/nl901380u. Copyright 2009 American Chemical Society.
FEM video from Université Lyon1/CNRS shows the rotation of the nanotube during growth. The observation helps confirm a new rotational theory of carbon nanotube growth offered by Rice researchers in February.
Published online this month by researchers at France’s Université Lyon1/CNRS and Houston’s Rice University, the research provides the first experimental evidence of how individual carbon atoms are added to growing nanotubes.
“The key issue for realizing the potential of carbon nanotubes has always been better control of their growth,” said team lead Stephen Purcell of the Université Lyon1/CNRS. “Our findings offer new insights for better measurement, modeling and control of nanotube growth.”
Carbon nanotubes are long, hollow cylinders of pure carbon. They are hair-like in shape but are about 100,000 times smaller than human hair. They are also about six times stronger than steel, conduct electricity as well as copper and are almost impervious to radiation and chemical destruction. As a result, scientists are keen to use them in superstrong, “smart” materials, but they need to better understand how to produce them.
“The images from Dr. Purcell’s lab show the atom-by-atom ‘self assembly’ of a nanotube,” said Rice co-author Boris Yakobson, professor in mechanical engineering and materials science and of chemistry. “The video offers compelling evidence of the rotational motion that accompanies nanotube growth. It brings to mind Galileo’s famous quote, ‘And yet, it does turn.'”
Carbon Nanotubes — tiny tubes about 10,000 times thinner than a human hair — consist of rolled up sheets of carbon hexagons. Discovered in 1991 by researchers at NEC, they have the potential for use as minuscule wires or in ultrasmall electronic devices. – ibm
What makes them spin? Spin may be built in to the universe.