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Nano Lett. 2007 Mar;7(3):632-7. Epub 2007 Feb 9.

Deformation-driven electrical transport of individual boron nitride nanotubes.

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International Center for Young Scientists, and Nanoscale Materials Center, National Institute for Materials Science, Namiki 1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0044, Japan.


In contrast to standard metallic or semiconducting graphitic carbon nanotubes, for years their structural analogs, boron nitride nanotubes, in which alternating boron and nitrogen atoms substitute for carbon atoms in a graphitic network, have been considered to be truly electrically insulating due to a wide band gap of layered BN. Alternatively, here, we show that under in situ elastic bending deformation at room temperature inside a 300 kV high-resolution transmission electron microscope, a normally electrically insulating multiwalled BN nanotube may surprisingly transform to a semiconductor. The semiconducting parameters of bent multiwalled BN nanotubes squeezed between two approaching gold contacts inside the pole piece of the microscope have been retrieved based on the experimentally recorded I-V curves. In addition, the first experimental signs suggestive of piezoelectric behavior in deformed BN nanotubes have been observed.

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