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Taking a new look at carbon nanotubes
Date:11/12/2013

Despite their almost incomprehensibly small size a diameter about one ten-thousandth the thickness of a human hair single-walled carbon nanotubes come in a plethora of different "species," each with its own structure and unique combination of electronic and optical properties. Characterizing the structure and properties of an individual carbon nanotube has involved a lot of guesswork until now.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have developed a technique that can be used to identify the structure of an individual carbon nanotube and characterize its electronic and optical properties in a functional device.

"Using a novel high-contrast polarization-based optical microscopy set-up, we've demonstrated video-rate imaging and in-situ spectroscopy of individual carbon nanotubes on various substrates and in functional devices," says Feng Wang, a condensed matter physicist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division. "For the first time, we can take images and spectra of individual nanotubes in a general environment, including on substrates or in functional devices, which should be a great tool for advancing nanotube technology."

Wang, who is also a professor with UC Berkeley's Physics Department, is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The paper is titled "High-throughput optical imaging and spectroscopy of individual carbon nanotubes in devices." Co-authors are Kaihui Liu, Xiaoping Hong, Qin Zhou, Chenhao Jin, Jinghua Li, Weiwei Zhou, Jie Liu, Enge Wang and Alex Zettl.

A single-walled carbon nanotube can be metallic or semiconducting depending on its exact structure. Semiconducting nanotubes can have very different electronic bandgaps, resulting in wildly different electronic or optical properties.

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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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