to Nature home page
home
search






Nature24 July 2003

 nature highlights

Nanotechnology: What goes round

The drive to miniaturization of commercial microelectromechanical systems has already reached the submillimetre to micrometre scale. The next step, a nanometre-scale electromechanical system, is now a reality in the laboratory. The latest advance has the simplicity — no external paraphernalia such as lasers or magnets — to suggest that practical devices are not far away. The new system is an ultra-small actuator 300 nm in length, with all components integrated on a silicon chip. A multiwalled carbon nanotube acts as its central shaft, and attached to it is a solid metal mirror or paddle that rotates in response to an applied voltage. The bearing-like action of nested carbon nanotubes allows the efficient transmission of the rotational motion. Unlike nanoscale bio-motors or bio-actuators, this synthetic device can operate in a vacuum and over wide frequency and temperature ranges. It has applicability to optical, mechanical, biological and chemical systems. See this device in action in a movie, downloadable from the Supplementary Information for this paper.

letters to nature
Rotational actuators based on carbon nanotubes
A. M. FENNIMORE, T. D. YUZVINSKY, WEI-QIANG HAN, M. S. FUHRER, J. CUMINGS & A. ZETTL
Nature 424, 408–410 (2003); doi:10.1038/nature01823
| First Paragraph | Full Text (HTML / PDF) |

24 July 2003 table of contents

  
  © 2003 Nature Publishing Group