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.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $15.58 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Terrones, M., Terrones, H., Banhart, F., Charlier, J.-C. & Ajayan, P. M. Coalescence of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Science 288, 1226–1229 (2000).
Terrones, M. et al. Molecular junctions by joining single-walled carbon nanotubes. Phys. Rev. Lett. 89, 075505 (2002).
Wang, M. S., Wang, J. Y., Chen, Q. & Peng, L. M. Fabrication and electrical and mechanical properties of carbon nanotube interconnections. Adv. Funct. Mater. 15, 1825–1831 (2005).
Huang, J. Y. et al. Superplastic carbon nanotubes. Nature 439, 281 (2006).
Ding, F., Jiao, K., Lin, Y. & Yakobson, B. I. How evaporating carbon nanotubes retain their perfection? Nano Lett. 7, 681–684 (2007).
Yoo, M. et al. Zipper mechanism of nanotube fusion: theory and experiment. Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 075504 (2004).
Dunlap, B. I. Relating carbon tubules. Phys. Rev. B 49, 5643–5650 (1994).
Hashimoto, A., Suenaga, K., Golter, A., Urita, K. & Iijima, S. Direct evidence for atomic defects in graphene layers. Nature 430, 870–873 (2004).
Zhao, Y. F., Yakobson, B. I. & Smalley, R. E. Dynamic topology of fullerene coalescence. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 185501 (2002).
Zhao, Y. F., Smalley, R. E. & Yakobson, B. I. Coalescence of fullerene cages: topology, energetics, and molecular dynamics simulation. Phys. Rev. B 66, 195409 (2002).
Han, S. et al. Microscopic mechanism of fullerene fusion. Phys. Rev. B 70, 113402 (2004).
Stone, A. J. & Wales, D. J. Theoretical studies of icosahedral C60 and some related species. Chem. Phys. Lett. 128, 501–503 (1986).
Bandow, S., Takizawa, M., Hirahara, K., Yudasaka, M. & Iijima, S. Raman scattering study of double-wall carbon nanotubes derived from the chains of fullerenes in single-wall carbon nanotubes. Chem. Phys. Lett. 337, 48–54 (2001).
Pop, E., Mann, D., Wang, Q., Goodson, K. & Dai, H. Thermal conductance of an individual single-wall carbon nanotube above room temperature. Nano Lett. 6, 96–100 (2006).
Sorbello, R. S. Theory of electromigration. Solid State Phys. 51, 159–231, (1998).
Suenaga, K. et al. Imaging active topological defects in carbon nanotubes. Nature Nanotech. 2, 358–360 (2007).
Regan, B. C., Aloni, S., Ritchie, R. O., Dahmen, U. & Zettl, A. Carbon nanotubes as nanoscale mass conveyors. Nature 428, 924–927 (2004).
Svensson, K., Olin, H. & Olsson, E. Nanopipettes for metal transport. Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 145901 (2004 ).
Iijima, S. & Ichihashi, T. Structural instability of ultrafine particles of metals. Phys. Rev. Lett. 56, 616–619 (1986).
Kiang, C. H., Goddard III, W. A., Beyers, R., Salem, J. R. & Bethune, D. S. Catalytic effects of heavy metals on the growth of carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles. J. Phys. Chem. Solids 57, 35–39 (1996).
Raty, J.-Y., Gygi, F. & Galli, G. Growth of carbon nanotubes on metal nanoparticles: a microscopic mechanism from ab initio molecular dynamics simulations. Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 096103 (2005).
Rodriguez-Manzo, J. A. et al. In situ nucleation of carbon nanotubes by the injection of carbon atoms into metal particles. Nature Nanotech. 2, 307–311 (2007).
Endo, M. et al. Atomic nanotube welders: boron interstitials triggering connections in double-walled carbon nanotubes. Nano Lett. 5, 1099–1105 (2005).
Dyke, W. P. & Trolan, J. K. Field emission: large current densities, space charge, and the vacuum arc. Phys. Rev. 89, 799–808 (1953).
Ajayan, P. M. et al. Growth of manganese filled carbon nanofibers in the vapor phase. Phys. Rev. Lett. 72, 1722–1725 (1994).
C.J. thanks the Japan Society for Promotion of Science for a postdoctoral fellowship. The work on microscopy is partly supported by CREST.
Supplementary figures S1–S3, supplementary tables S1 and S2, and supplementary movie captions (PDF 783 kb)
Supplementary Movie 1 (MOV 2858 kb)
Supplementary Movie 2 (MOV 1996 kb)
Supplementary Movie 3 (MOV 789 kb)
Supplementary Movie 4 (MOV 1075 kb)
Supplementary Movie 5 (MOV 4861 kb)
Supplementary Movie 6 (MOV 749 kb)
Supplementary Movie 7 (MOV 6126 kb)
About this article
Cite this article
Jin, C., Suenaga, K. & Iijima, S. Plumbing carbon nanotubes. Nature Nanotech 3, 17–21 (2008) doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.406
The stability and reactivity of transition metal atoms supported mono and di vacancies defected carbon based materials revealed from first principles study
Applied Surface Science (2019)
Axial vibration of hetero-junction CNTs mass nanosensors by considering the effects of small scale and connecting region: An analytical solution
Physica B: Condensed Matter (2019)
Chemistry of Materials (2019)
Seamless interconnections of sp2-bonded carbon nanostructures via the crystallization of a bridging amorphous carbon joint
Materials Horizons (2019)