A Tesla Coil Can Zap Nanotubes into Long Nanowires

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - 19:58

Researchers at Rice University have found out that the strong force field emitted by a Tesla coil causes carbon nanotubes to self-assemble into long wires, in a phenomenon they call “Teslaphoresis.”

According to Gizmag, The system works by remotely oscillating positive and negative charges in each nanotube, causing them to chain together into long wires.

The process begins with a bunch of carbon nanotubes. These are collections of carbon atoms that form a microscopic cylinder. Because of their special mechanical and electrical properties, researchers are currently searching for practical applications thereof. In particular, carbon nanotubes can be semiconductors, metals and superconductors depending on their structure, but a scalable method of assembling them into practical circuits has yet to be found.

Next, a group of disorganized nanotubes is placed in a space in front of Tesla coil. The nanotubes then align themselves such that they form long chains. Although moving material with electric fields is not new, with teslaphoresis this matter can be moved at much greater distances than with previous methods, WIRED reports.

The researchers discovered that the phenomenon simultaneously assembles and powers circuits that harvest energy from the field. In one experiment, nanotubes assembled themselves into wires, formed a circuit connecting two LEDs and then absorbed energy from the Tesla coil’s field to light them.

The team believes that this ability for carbon nanotubes to self-organize into long parallel arrays could see Teslaphoresis being effectively used in the future to direct self-assembly from the microscale to produce macroscale objects. The related paper by lead author and graduate student [Lindsey R. Bornhoeft] could be a breakthrough in the creation of ultra-thin, ultra-strong, and ultra-conductive carbon nanowires.

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