Micromechanical devices are most commonly made from silicon; now it is time to welcome carbon-based wafers to the party. Kenji Hata at the Nanotube Research Center in Tsukuba, Japan, and his co-workers say wafers such as those that they have built could provide an inexpensive approach to making these microstructures.
The researchers constructed the wafers by growing an array of widely spaced, vertically aligned carbon nanotubes. These were then 'squeezed' together by introducing an alcohol solution; the surface tension of the liquids and strong interactions between the nanotubes pulled the tubes into a densely packed arrangement.
These wafers can be processed using the same lithographic techniques that are used to work on silicon. The team has made mini-cantilevers and a range of other structures.