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Structural defects introduced into carbon nanotubes could lead the way to carbon nanotube circuits, research led by Vincent Meunier of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Computer Science and Mathematics Division shows. Individual carbon nanotubes are excellent conductors of electricity, but that conductivity goes away when they are connected together into circuits because the junctions act as barriers, and the connections are effective insulators. However, work conducted at the Department of Energy's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL and Mexico's National Laboratory for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research shows that imperfections in the carbon lattice structure, which is typically hexagonal, improve conductivity between nanotubes.
The finding could lead to nanoscale circuits that enable more compact and more powerful computers made of carbon nanotube materials that outperform silicon. The research is published in the journal ACS Nano; an article also appears in the Dec. 15 issue of New Scientist. The work is supported by the Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
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