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January 29th, 2004

Nanotechnology: How does a nanofibre grow?

Decades of research have failed to decipher the atomic-scale mechanism by which carbon nanofibres grow out of vapour. High-resolution microscopy shows that the carbon atoms have a bumpy ride. In his historic monograph On Growth and Form, D'Arcy Thompson wrote that the form of an object is a diagram of its growth forces. Often, however, this relationship between growth and form is too complex to determine: the growth of filamentous carbon in the vapour phase is a case in point.

* Nature

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