Nanosized conveyor belt

June 3, 2004
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory transformed carbon nanotubes into conveyor belts capable of ferrying atomsized particles to microscopic worksites.

Nanoscale conveyor belts may expedite atom-by-atom construction of nanostructures.

Applying a small electrical current to a carbon nanotube moves indium particles along the tube like a conveyor belt. This movement solves the issue of efficient assembly of nanostructures currently plaguing researchers.

Indium metal is thermally evaporated onto a bundle of carbon nanotubes. The bundle is placed inside a transmission electron microscope, where a tungsten tip on the end of a nanomanipulator approaches a nanotube. Once physical contact is made, voltage is applied between the tip and the other end of the nanotube, creating a circuit.

Real-time video shows an indium particle disappearing, while a particle next to it grows. The large particle also disappears, replaced by another further to the right. The thermally driven indium atoms move along the nanotube, until all the indium piles up at the end. In the future, this nanosized conveyor belt could be aimed anywhere scientists want to deliver mass atom by atom. Also, if voltage increases, the indium's temperature rises and the metal moves from left to right more quickly. “It's the equivalent of turning a knob with my hand and taking macroscale control of nanoscale mass transport,” says Chris Regan of the Materials Sciences Div. “It's also reversible: We can change the current's polarity and drive the indium back to its original position,” he adds.

The research lays the groundwork for high-throughput construction of atomic-scale optical, electronic, and mechanical devices that will power the growing field of nanotechnology.

Sponsored Recommendations

MOVI-C Unleashed: Your One-Stop Shop for Automation Tasks

April 17, 2024
Discover the versatility of SEW-EURODRIVE's MOVI-C modular automation system, designed to streamline motion control challenges across diverse applications.

The Power of Automation Made Easy

April 17, 2024
Automation Made Easy is more than a slogan; it signifies a shift towards smarter, more efficient operations where technology takes on the heavy lifting.

Lubricants: Unlocking Peak Performance in your Gearmotor

April 17, 2024
Understanding the role of lubricants, how to select them, and the importance of maintenance can significantly impact your gearmotor's performance and lifespan.

From concept to consumption: Optimizing success in food and beverage

April 9, 2024
Identifying opportunities and solutions for plant floor optimization has never been easier. Download our visual guide to quickly and efficiently pinpoint areas for operational...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!