Available Technology

Controllable, Reversible, Nanoscale Mass Conveyor IB-2007

Alex Zettl and colleagues have invented a system that uses nanotubes to move nanoscale particles to and from precise locations without the loss of a single atom. The development is a significant step towards the mass production of nanoscale devices, overcoming problems of loading efficiency encountered with scanning tunneling and atomic force microscope techniques. The Zettl team thermally evaporates metal onto nanotubes and runs a current through the tubes. The metal particles melt and move along a tube, developing droplets that disappear as others grow downstream, until all the metal arrives at the end of the tube. The migration can be speeded up by increasing the current and reversed by reversing the current, offering scientists the flexibility needed for developing efficient assembly processes. The Berkeley Lab process has already been used to construct several nanoscale machines and working devices, including a linear nanomotor (see the link below). Combining the mass conveyor technique with the atomic manipulation capabilities of scanning probe microscopy could produce a powerful assembly tool to fabricate nanostructures such as arrays of nanocrystals, spherical nanolenses, and plasmonic waveguides.
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Issued Patent # 7,341,651. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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