Scientists suggest making electronic devices from 'carbon peas'

June 22, 2018, National Research Nuclear University

Scientists from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Russia) have studied the properties of fullerene nanotubes, also known as "carbon peas," during stretching. The article on the project, which will help develop sophisticated nano-electronics, has been published in Diamond and Related Materials.

Metals are known for their impressive electrical and thermal conductivity levels and their electrical resistance increases during heating. They also have a distinguishing luster. These properties are determined by the presence of free electrons that can move under the influence of an electric field. Therefore, materials with a complex composition and containing free electrons act as metals.

In the past 30 years, experts have synthesized many new materials, including filled with fullerenes. These tubes are called "carbon peas" because they resemble pea pods.

"It turns out that carbon peas can be used as semiconductors and as metals," Konstantin Katin, an assistant professor in the Condensed Matter Physics Department at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, explained. "Just stretch them by 4 percent to unlock their metallic properties. Their high resilience and tensile strength allow them to remain intact after stretching."

The distance between fullerenes and the nanotube's surface is so small that electron clouds can travel between the nanotube and fullerenes and back. This phenomenon is called hybridization. The extent of hybridization determines electronic properties of various devices that can be manufactured using electronic peas.

"Everything depends on the correlation between energy levels of electrons inside nanotubes and fullerenes," said Mikhail Maslov, an assistant professor in the Condensed Matter Physics Department at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI. "Our nanotube initially acted as a semiconductor and had an energy gap. Although electrons lacked the energy to fill this gap, the application of mechanical tension changed the entire picture. Energy levels shifted, with carbon peas displaying their metallic properties."

Today, scientists have to use all kinds of materials, including metals and semiconductors, for making sophisticated nano-electronic devices. However, the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI's project proves that they can be replaced by only one compound, namely, pre-stressed carbon peas. This will make it possible to manufacture simple resonant-tunneling diodes, terahertz radiation generators, electronic switches, and sensors.

Explore further: Physicists unravel mystery of stable fullerenes

More information: Konstantin S. Grishakov et al. Strain-induced semiconductor-to-metal transitions in C 36 -based carbon peapods: Ab initio study, Diamond and Related Materials (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.diamond.2018.03.023

Related Stories

Physicists unravel mystery of stable fullerenes

January 15, 2018

Scientists at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Russia) have explained the stability of nitrogen-doped fullerenes, which makes their industrial production and application easier. The article was published in ...

Visualization of molecular soccer balls

May 10, 2018

Fullerenes are composed of 60 carbon atoms joined together in hexagonal rings to form a sphere that resembles a soccer ball. Fullerenes are of great interest to materials scientists because their interesting electronic properties ...

Scientists study the types of carbon nanotube 'stuffing'

June 3, 2016

Marianna Kharlamova of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Department of Materials Science examined different types of carbon nanotube "stuffing" and classified them according to the influence on the properties of the nanotubes. ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.