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Friction force differences could offer a new means for sorting and assembling nanotubes
Date:9/15/2009

rce is needed to move them."

The combined theoretical and experimental study was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Other institutions contributing to the project include the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, International School for Advanced Studies and CNR Democritos Laboratory all in Trieste, Italy and the University of Hamburg in Germany. The paper was published in advance online on September 13 by the journal Nature Materials.

Carbon nanotubes have exceptional thermal, mechanical and electrical properties that have generated considerable interest since they were first reported in 1991. Though friction has been studied before in nanotubes, this research is the first to provide detailed information about the frictional forces at work in both the longitudinal and transverse directions when the tubes interact with an AFM tip.

Friction is one of the oldest problems in physics and one of the most important to everyday life. It is estimated that the losses in the U.S. economy due to friction total about 6 percent of the gross national product. Friction is even more important to micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoscale devices because these smaller systems are more affected by surface forces than large systems.

"As systems become smaller and smaller, it becomes more important to understand how to address friction," said Riedo. "Surface forces can prevent micro and nano systems from operating at all."

Experimentally, the researchers scanned an atomic force microscope tip longitudinally along a series of multiwalled carbon nanotubes held stationary on a substrate. They also conducted a series of similar scans in the transverse direction. The researchers applied a consistent force on the AFM tip in both scanning directions, and relied on powerful Van der Waals forces to hold tubes in place on the substrate.

"When you scan a nanotube transversely, you are probing s
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Contact: John Toon
jtoon@gatech.edu
404-894-6986
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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