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Nature. 2000 Jun 15;405(6788):769-72.

Reversible electromechanical characteristics of carbon nanotubes under local-probe manipulation

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, California 94305, USA.


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 microscope (AFM) to manipulate multi-walled nanotubes, revealing that changes in the sample resistance were small unless the nanotubes fractured or the metal-tube 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 SWNT sample 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.


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