Physics

Giving Conductivity the Push

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Science  09 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5472, pp. 1707
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5472.1707b

The interrelation of the electronic and mechanical properties of carbon single-wall nanotubes could potentially be exploited in what could be the nanoscale equivalent of a mechanical switch. Previous experimental work has shown that bending a suspended nanotube by as little as 13° with the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) can result in an almost two orders of magnitude decrease in the conductivity of the nanotube. As discussed by Liu et al., such changes in conductivity at such small deformations is not readily explained with existing models in which the bend in the tube is defined at the ends that hold it in position. They now introduce a molecular dynamics model in which the pressure applied by the AFM induces local strain in the tube. Their calculations suggest that such a large decrease in the conductivity is caused by a transition in the local bonding configuration from a conducting sp2 environment to a less conducting sp3 configuration caused by the deformation made with the tip.—ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett.84, 4950 (2000).

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