BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : NOVEMBER 27, 2000 ISSUE
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Photo Courtesy of University Of North Carolina, Dept. Of Computer Science Like Child's Play
With the nanoManipulator system at the University of North Carolina, experiments in nano land are almost child's play. Holding a pencil-like device, researchers can nudge molecules, like the carbon nanotubes projected onto the table, into different arrangements. A computer tracks every motion, reduces it a millionfold, and steers the tip of an atomic-force microscope, or AFM.


Photo Courtesy IBM AFM tips are so pointy they can trace the outlines of individual atoms. The whisker on the tip at left is a carbon nanotube that improves the resolution of images. For physically manipulating molecules, clean-shaven tips are used.


 Here, an AFM tip touches and bends a carbon nano-tube. Because it would be incredibly tedious to create electronic circuits by nudging millions of nanotubes into place, researchers are working on techniques that will cause nanotubes to self-assemble into desired shapes and patterns.


Photo Courtesy BELL LABS/LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES As an alternative, conductive polymers can be coaxed into specific patterns. The Z-shaped structure here is formed by a conductive polymer with a tongue-twisting name: naphthalene-tetracarboxylic-dianhydride.





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