NANO: Stretching Nanotubes

Doug Bailey (
Thu, 3 Dec 1998 11:54:34 -0500


Since the discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991, physicists and engineers have been trumpeting their potentially revolutionary uses in high-strength materials and new microscopic devices. Researchers hope to make these all-carbon cylindrical molecules into superstrong fibers and microscopic wires, but because the experiments are difficult, the mechanical properties of nanotubes are not wellunderstood. In the 23 November PRL a team reports on the first full, atom-by-atom computer simulations of the responses to mechanical stress of a wide variety of nanotube structures. They found that at high temperatures some nanotube structures don't break initially, but transform gradually into longer, smaller-diameter tubes, an unexpected behavior that may be useful for making nanotube-based electronic devices. (See video at the Focus web site.) (Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 4656; posted 30 November 1998. Link to the paper:

Doug Bailey