Nanotube Research

Carbon nanotubes have a range of unique and exciting physical properties and have, for the past two decades, received a great deal of attention from the scientific community.

We are interested in understanding the atomic structure of nanotubes, their use in electronic devices, and their electron spin properties.

Nanotube structure

We investigate the structure of carbon nanotubes using aberration corrected transmission electron microscopy (TEM). By operating the microscope at an energy of 80 keV it is possible to minimise the damage done to the carbon nanotubes during imaging.

We have shown that the stability of a single wall carbon nanotube (SWNT) under electron beam irradiation is strongly dependant on their diameter and cleanliness, with clean large diameter tubes being robust against defect formation (above).

The detailed atomic resolution of our TEM images has allowed us to reveal, for the first time, the remarkable atomic deformation mechanics of a SWNT. These results confirm that SWNTs behave as Timoshenko beams with shear strain occurring during flexing. The figure below shows (a) a chiral SWNT, (b) a zig-zag SWNT, and (c) higher magnification image of (b).

Nanotube electronic properties

The electronic behaviour of carbon nanotubes is strongly dependant on their precise atomic configuration with some tubes being semi-conductors and some metallic. We have fabricated high mobility solution processed SWNT field effect transistors (below).