Carbon Nanotube Knife Like Cheese Slicer

A prototype carbon nanotube "knife" has been developed on the same basic principle as a wire cheese slicer. The device stretches an individual nanotube between two tungsten needles, which is then pulled through a suitably soft sample.


(SEM micrograph showing a mechanical bending test
of the nanotube being pushed by the AFM tip.)

"We stretched an individual nanotube between two tungsten needles in a manner that allowed us to test the mechanical strength of assembled device" Gurpreet Singh tells Nanowerk. "A force test on the prototype nanoknife indicated that failure was at the weld while the CNT was unaffected by the force we applied. In situ load tests on the nanoknife indicated maximum breaking force to be in micro Newton range."

Singh, a postdoctoral associate at the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory at Virginia Tech's Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science(ICTAS), is first author of a recent paper in Nanotechnology that demonstrates the fabrication and characterization of a carbon nanotube-based nanoknife.

Singh explains that, in biotechnology and medical studies, the three-dimensional cryo-electron microscopy of frozen–hydrated samples is important for structural and functional studies of cells.

"An intrinsic problem to cutting sections of frozen–hydrated samples with conventional diamond or glass knives is that the angle included at the knife’s cutting edge bends the sections sharply away from the block face, inducing compressive stresses on the upper surface of the section relative to the bottom, which leads to cracking of the sample surface when it is laid flat," he says. "A possible solution to this problem is to use a multi- walled carbon nanotube in place of a conventional diamond knife. This device would reduce the angle by which the sample is bent during cutting, due to the small diameter of a carbon nanotube."

...a tightly strung metal wire is an effective cutting tool, so long as the wire and its support are strong and the material is not too hard (think cheese). "One can imagine that CNTs could cut vitreous water, vitrified cells, and other comparatively soft materials in the same way" says Singh. "Maybe, one day, similar devices might even be used for nanosurgery."


(Cutting process being carried out by the nanoknife)

This development was predicted by sf great Arthur C. Clarke in his 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise:

Though Rajasinghe strained his eyes, he could see no trace of any thread or wire connecting the ring through which his finger was hooked and the box that Morgan was operating much like a fisherman reeling in his catch...

"So you do have an invisible wire. Clever - but what use is it, except for parlor tricks?"

"The reason you can't see it is this sample is only a few microns thick. Much thinner than a spider's web... it's a continuous pseudo-one-dimensional diamond crystal..."

"Fascinating," whispered Rajasinghe, almost to himself. He gave little tugs on the ring hooked around his finger, to test that the tension was still there and that he was not hallucinating. "I can appreciate that this may have all sorts of technical applications. It would make a splendid cheese cutter."
(Read more about Clarke's 1D diamond crystal aka hyperfilament.)

From Nanowerk. Also, for those who are mystified by the cheese slicer analogy, here's a wire cheese slicer video.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/24/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 5 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'- Philip K. Dick, 1957.

Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'

Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'

'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'

A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.'

Abundant Robotics Autonomous Apple Harvester Robot
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant... cutting off the ripe fruit.'

Charging An Electric Car In 2019 (Video), 1912 (Photo) And 1894 (Fiction)
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

Japan Uses Explosives On Asteroid
'...a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour.'

Get Your Speeder Flying Motorcycle From Jetpack Aviation
'The flycycles were miracles of compact design.'

FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.

Dockworkers Protest Driverless Trucks
'It resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda
'Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes... On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom...'

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.