Plumbing carbon nanotubes

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Since their discovery, the possibility of connecting carbon nanotubes together like water pipes has been an intriguing prospect for these hollow nanostructures. The serial joining of carbon nanotubes in a controlled manner offers a promising approach for the bottom-up engineering of nanotube structures—from simply increasing their aspect ratio to making integrated carbon nanotube devices. To date, however, there have been few reports of the joining of two different carbon nanotubes1,2,3. Here we demonstrate that a Joule heating process, and associated electro-migration effects, can be used to connect two carbon nanotubes that have the same (or similar) diameters. More generally, with the assistance of a tungsten metal particle, this technique can be used to seamlessly join any two carbon nanotubes—regardless of their diameters—to form new nanotube structures.

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Figure 1: Schematic images of three typical geometries for joining CNTs.
Figure 2: Successful and unsuccessful joining attempts on two different types of SWNTs.
Figure 3: W-assisted joining of two DWNTs.


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C.J. thanks the Japan Society for Promotion of Science for a postdoctoral fellowship. The work on microscopy is partly supported by CREST.

Author information

C. J., K.S. and S.I. conceived and designed the experiments. C.J. performed the experiments and analysed the data. C.J. and K.S. co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Chuanhong Jin or Kazu Suenaga.

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Jin, C., Suenaga, K. & Iijima, S. Plumbing carbon nanotubes. Nature Nanotech 3, 17–21 (2008) doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.406

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