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Home > News > Nanotubes Weigh the Atom

July 27th, 2009

Nanotubes Weigh the Atom

Abstract:
How can you weigh a single atom? European researchers have built an exquisite new device that can do just that. It may ultimately allow scientists to study the progress of chemical reactions, molecule by molecule.

Carbon nanotubes are ultra-thin fibres of carbon and a nanotechnologist's dream. They are made from thin sheets of carbon only one atom thick known as graphene rolled into a tube only a few nanometres across. Even the thickest is more than a thousand times thinner than a human hair.

Interest in carbon nanotubes blossomed in the 1990s when they were found to possess impressive characteristics that make them very attractive raw materials for nanotechnology of all kinds.

"They have unique properties," explains Professor Pertti Hakonen of Helsinki University of Technology. "They are about 1000 times stronger than steel and very good thermal conductors and good electrical conductors."

Hakonen is coordinator of the EU-funded CARDEQ project which is exploiting these intriguing materials to build a device sensitive enough to measure the masses of atoms and molecules.

Source:
scientificcomputing.com

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