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How To Cut a Nanotube? Lots Of Compression

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the stabbing's-so-personal dept.

Science 38

An anonymous reader writes "A pipefitter knows how to make an exact cut on a metal rod. But it's far harder to imagine getting a precise cut on a carbon nanotube, with a diameter 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair. In a paper published this month in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A, researchers at Brown University and in Korea document for the first time how single-walled carbon nanotubes are cut, a finding that could lead to producing more precise, higher-quality nanotubes. Such manufacturing improvements likely would make the nanotubes more attractive for use in automotive, biomedicine, electronics, energy, optics and many other fields."

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38 comments

first post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34604768)

I just cut a fart. Savor the flavor you ass munchers!

Re:first post! (-1, Offtopic)

penguin_punk (66721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34604830)

Wow. Mod parent up - Informative.

1/50000th of a hair (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34604846)

The size of a hair is easy to imagine. The size of half a hair is still easy. 1/50000th of the hair is harder than x meters. Also, meters are fixed measurement, while hairs vary in size.

Re:1/50000th of a hair (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34604894)

The width is usually on the order of tens of nanometers; length can be up to multiple centimeters.

Re:1/50000th of a hair (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611078)

I think that's tenths of micrometers, which is on the edge of what our eyes can resolve.

Re:1/50000th of a hair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34604968)

It may be harder to you, but probably not to most people. Most people don't really have any concept of how small a nano or micrometer is, or what they even are. 1/50000th of a hair may be tough to imagine, but it gets the point across. It's really small.

Re:1/50000th of a hair (1)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605154)

Also, meters are fixed measurement, while hairs vary in size.

The diameters of carbon nanotubes varies over an order of magnitude. So g'luck with that.

A compromise! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34606212)

Could we stop with this nonsense and go back to the old ways where we stated lengths in the terms relative to the length of the football fields?

For those of you too lazy to do the math, football field is 109.7m, diameter of hair is 17-180 micrometres (I'll be using 60). So 1/50000th of a hair is about 1/9.14E10 football fields.

Re:A compromise! (1)

TiberiusMonkey (1603977) | more than 3 years ago | (#34606442)

AH! At last, someone explaining it to me in simple terms.

Re:A compromise! (1)

kmoser (1469707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612602)

American football or European football?

not so difficult (2)

fraktalek (1871686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34606280)

Imagine a hair's diameter is 50 km then the diameter of a nanotube is 1 meter. This gives you a pretty good idea how the dimensions compare ;)

Re:not so difficult (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34608550)

I have a very hard time imagining 50 km. How many Library of Congress stairwells is that?

Re:1/50000th of a hair (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612450)

You want to measure the width of a carbon nanotube in *meters*? How is that easier?

Even if you meant to say nanometers, I disagree with your argument. A human hair is a measure of a daily object that people can intuitively grasp. The measurement, "one meter", however, is not an intuitive concept. You still need to relate it to something in order to grasp it, even if it's just holding out your hands to show how far it is.

Cancer? (1)

mgabrys (14614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34604856)

How is this thing not carcinogenic? Hell Asbestos fibers are the width of the grand canyon in comparison.

Re:Cancer? (3, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605106)

Nanotubes punch holes in cells like molecular needles which is why there's a lot of interest in making antimicrobial surfaces out of them.

Re:Cancer? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34606698)

Well, I can see callouses building up from these, given how much I play guitar.

Especially since they would have much higher friction than a typical wood piece.

Re:Cancer? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34605128)

They have been show to behave in a manor similar to asbestos when inserted into mouse tissue http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2783215 [nih.gov] . However, when trying to determine the dangers of using a given material in a product there are two factors that need to be considered. One is how large of an expose is dangerous. Water will kill you if you drink enough of it. The second other is mechanisms of exposure. If you smashed the glass in your window and ate it would shred your stomach lining and probably kill you. Does this mean that we should ban the use of glass?

The reason asbestos was so bad is they put it in insulation, which when disturbed released a lot asbestos into the air. From there it could be inhaled. You can design a product using carbon nanotubes in such a way the the risk of exposure minimized. This would include steps such as embedding the carbon nanotubes in a polymer in a fashion such that significant quantities of carbon nanotubes will not be released into the air and coating the surface of the product with a material to will prevent significant quantiles from being absorbed though the skin while in contact.

There are two reasons that carbon nanotubes have not shown up in commercial products. The first is price. If I am recalling correctly carbon nanotubes cost about 100 dollars per gram. For comparison the price of gold in about 30 dollars per gram. The second is that actually carbon nanotube composites have so far had properties far worse than classic composites models would predict. Two reason for this are that carbon nanotubes are hard to evenly disperses within the filler material and the bonding between the filler material and the carbon nanotubes has been more problematic than it has with larger diameter fibers such as carbon fiber. That being said carbon nanotubes still have the potential to be a hugely useful material for many possible applications; however, there are still many basic research questions about producing and using carbon nanotubes that need to be resolved.

Re:Cancer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34605396)

They behave in a manor? But how do they behave in public?

If you don't want to surf redirects (4, Informative)

Foobar_ (120869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34604884)

Here's the Brown/KIST researchers' video, a rendered simulation showing the buckling action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzNqW_d0QGc&fmt=18 [youtube.com]

This is a mildly related movie of actual electron microscopy of a flat graphene sheet finding its most stable configuration after a hole was punched in it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EogdalfXF4c&feature=related&fmt=18 [youtube.com]

The broken nanotube under high pressure has the advantage of having lots of other carbon atoms in a similar predicament close enough nearby that the tube's wall can reform, while the flat sheet simply falls apart due to its own tension and lattice vibrations.

Is it just me? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34606756)

Is it just me or is my brain 'feeling' some odd pattern from the breakdown in the first video, especially when compared to the other video?

The model seems to match actual video by showing reformation and deformation of atomic links in rapid order.

anyways, too late to think. Night!

Off the top of my head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34605004)

If you wanted to cut single singled wall carbon nanotubes why not just bast them with a Focused ion beam http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Focused_ion_beam [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Off the top of my head (0)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605034)

Because they were outlawed after the reaction [wikipedia.org] to the attacks on Wikileaks

Re:Off the top of my head (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605052)

Eh, I say just go after them with a nice pair of scissors.

hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34605072)

use an EDM

Depends on what you want to cut them for (2)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605108)

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and irradiation happen to be the general subject of a term project I'm finishing up...

There's a lot of uses for CNTs ( http://www.sciencemag.org/content/297/5582/787.full [sciencemag.org] Might work. Might be paywalled. Yay University). The article didn't look to specific. (Or just plain wrong) I'm not clear if they're cutting a single CNT at a time or not.

One approach I've seen is suspending CNTs in a H2O2 solution, and irradiating with gamma rays to get shorter more uniform lengths of CNTs. The result basically is sphaghetti. A potential application though is as an additive in epoxies for strength. Identify the ideal length for structural purposes, and irradiate CNTs to get said length. This article also mentioned using ultrasonic treatment or whatever to shorten CNTs. (So this article is not new science, I think) ("Shortening of multi-walled carbon nanotubes by c-irradiation in the presence of hydrogen peroxide," Jung, et al., 2008)

I've also seen electron irradiation for cutting multi-walled nanotubes. The electron microscope pics look almost like chopped up tree trunks.

Diameter of (single walled) CNTs is on the order of 0.5 to 5 nm. (Interestingly, carbon fiber fibers have diameters on the scale of microns, e.g. 1000x greater)

Man, what a bummer..... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34605118)

These poor souls have been locked in the dungeons of school, missed out on killer parties, and the joys of the opposite sex for what? Now they learn they need to go to Cosmetology school and they blew their life on 'higher learning'. These people got robbed, I bet they want a do-over.

Later...

How to cut a nanotube? here's the real answer (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605126)

Hire a teeny tiny samurai.

Re:How to cut a nanotube? here's the real answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34605314)

Hire a nanosamurai.

FTFY

hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34605136)

Use an EDM

Simple, really. (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605422)

Make emo nanotubes, they cut themselves! Bahaha, I'm pretty funny!

laser (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34605798)

Only they are powerful and precise enough to cut something like that.

A Carpenters Rule (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34606660)

Brings new meaning to the phrase measure twice, cut once.

Thickness of human hair is not a useful measure of (1)

Strange Attractor (18957) | more than 3 years ago | (#34607180)

Human hair thickness varies by a factor of 10.

Re:Thickness of human hair is not a useful measure (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612496)

So do carbon nanotubes.

Laser seems obvious, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34607746)

...maybe too obvious.

They aren't using them for a reason - I wonder why.

Cut it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34608480)

I thought they were trying to figure out how to get them longer.

Re:Cut it? (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612498)

Researchers are excellent at solving problems that nobody is having yet.

Re:Cut it? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#34614714)

For some applications you would like them to be longer, for some you'd like them to be shorter. If you are covering a surface with standing nanotubes (like short hairs) you want a lot of short nanotubes. These surfaces can kill bacteria and are useful as chemical sensor surface (and probably a lot of other things).
If you want to use the tensile strength of the buggers (as in a space elevator) you'd want them as long as possible.
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