Extreme Oxygen Sensitivity of Electronic Properties of Carbon Nanotubes

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Science  10 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5459, pp. 1801-1804
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5459.1801

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The electronic properties of single-walled carbon nanotubes are shown here to be extremely sensitive to the chemical environment. Exposure to air or oxygen dramatically influences the nanotubes' electrical resistance, thermoelectric power, and local density of states, as determined by transport measurements and scanning tunneling spectroscopy. These electronic parameters can be reversibly “tuned” by surprisingly small concentrations of adsorbed gases, and an apparently semiconducting nanotube can be converted into an apparent metal through such exposure. These results, although demonstrating that nanotubes could find use as sensitive chemical gas sensors, likewise indicate that many supposedly intrinsic properties measured on as-prepared nanotubes may be severely compromised by extrinsic air exposure effects.

  • * Present address: IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Post Office Box 218, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: azettl{at}

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