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Reversible electromechanical characteristics of carbon nanotubes under local-probe manipulation

T. W. Tombler, C. Zhou, L. Alexseyev, J. Kong, H. Dai
Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, Ca

L. Liu, C. S. Jayanthi, S. Wu
Department of Physics, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky

M. Tang
Physics Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Ca

Abstract

            The effects of mechanical deformation on the electrical properties of carbon nanotubes are of interest given the practical potential of nanotubes in electromechanical devices, and they have been studied using both theoretical and experimental approaches. One recent experiment used the tip of an atomic force micro- scope (AFM) to manipulate multi-walled nanotubes, revealing that changes in the sample resistance were small unless the nanotubes fractured or the metalątube contacts were perturbed. But it remains unclear how mechanical deformation affects the intrinsic electrical properties of nanotubes. Here we report an experimental and theoretical elucidation of the electromechanical characteristics of individual single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) under local-probe manipulation. We use AFM tips to deflect suspended SWNTs reversibly, without changing the contact resistance; in situ electrical measurements reveal that the conductance of an SWNTsample can be reduced by two orders of magnitude when deformed by an AFM tip. Our tight-binding simulations indicate that this effect is owing to the formation of local sp3 bonds caused by the mechanical pushing action of the tip.

T. W. Tombler, C. Zhou, L. Alexseyev, J. Kong, H. Dai, L. Liu, C. S. Jayanthi, M. Tang, S. Wu, "Reversible electromechanical characteristics of carbon nanotubes under local-probe manipulation," NATURE 405, 769-772 (June 2000)

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