Atom Collision-Induced Resistivity of Carbon Nanotubes

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Science  07 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5706, pp. 89-93
DOI: 10.1126/science.1102004

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We report the observation of unusually strong and systematic changes in the electron transport in metallic single-walled carbon nanotubes that are undergoing collisions with inert gas atoms or small molecules. At fixed gas temperature and pressure, changes in the resistance and thermopower of thin films are observed that scale as roughly M1/3, where M is the mass of the colliding gas species (He, Ar, Ne, Kr, Xe, CH4, and N2). Results of molecular dynamics simulations are also presented that show that the maximum deformation of the tube wall upon collision and the total energy transfer between the colliding atom and the nanotube also exhibit a roughly M1/3 dependence. It appears that the transient deformation (or dent) in the tube wall may provide a previously unknown scattering mechanism needed to explain the atom collision–induced changes in the electrical transport.

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