Unraveling Nanotubes: Field Emission from an Atomic Wire

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Science  15 Sep 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5230, pp. 1550-1553
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5230.1550


Field emission of electrons from individually mounted carbon nanotubes has been found to be dramatically enhanced when the nanotube tips are opened by laser evaporation or oxidative etching. Emission currents of 0.1 to 1 microampere were readily obtained at room temperature with bias voltages of less than 80 volts. The emitting structures are concluded to be linear chains of carbon atoms, Cn, (n = 10 to 100), pulled out from the open edges of the graphene wall layers of the nanotube by the force of the electric field, in a process that resembles unraveling the sleeve of a sweater.

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