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TU Dresden » Faculty of Mechanical Science and Engineering » Institute for Materials Science » Chair of Materials Science and Nanotechnology

Thursday, 07 August 2008
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Nanotube based thermal motors: sub-nanometer motion of cargoes driven by thermal gradients

Amelia Barreiro

Quantum nanoelectronics group
Institut Catala de Nanotecnologia

Here we report on an artificial nanofabricated motor (Fig. 1 A,B) in which one short nanotube moves relative to another coaxial nanotube and we present two major advances [1]. First, the atomic interaction between the nanotubes is shown to generate distinct kinds of motion for different devices, namely rotation and/or translation along the nanotube axis. Second, we show that the motion is actuated by imposing a thermal gradient along the nanotube, allowing for sub-nanometer displacements. More specifically, the thermal gradient generates a phononic current in one nanotube that hits and drags the second tube. This is, to our knowledge, the first experimental demonstration of displacive actuation at the nanoscale by means of a thermal gradient; we believe that thermal gradient actuation offers many possibilities in the design of novel nanoelectromechanical systems.
[1] A. Barreiro, R. Rurali, E. R. Hernández, J. Moser, T. Pichler, L. Forro, A. Bachtold. Science 320, 775 (2008).

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