Scientists from Russia have created a microscope that could peer into nanotubes

© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich in fotoreceptoriScientists from Russia have created a microscope that could peer into nanotubes© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich the image Bank

. Physicists from Russia and Portugal have created a unique atomic force microscope, capable of studying the structure and properties of nanotubes without damaging them at the same time, according to a paper published in the journal ultramicroscopy is.

«To increase the speed of computers is impossible without efficient cooling. You can use a compact device, similar in principles of operation on a conventional household refrigerator. If you make them from peptide nanotubes, we will be able to significantly reduce their sizes. Our task – as best as possible to study the properties of nanotubes and to learn how to use them effectively,» — said Alexander the Target of the ITMO University in St. Petersburg, whose word brings the press service of the University.

Since the discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991, scientists believed that they have a great future in modern industry. They have many useful properties – they conduct heat and current, high durability and mechanical resistance. But the first experiments have shown that nanotubes are very difficult to use in practice due to their small size and difficulties in their connection and interweaving into a single fiber.

A big problem, as scholars have noted, creates and that the characteristics of the nanotubes to the sharp change way you increase diameter or increase in the number of layers inside them. For this reason, most nanomaterials are made of nanotubes of a specific thickness and length, and errors when growing will make such products useless.

Measurement of diameter and other properties of nanotubes, as noted by the Target and his colleagues is difficult because the most convenient tool to conduct such measurements, atomic force microscope, destroys them while trying to «look» inside these structures and measure their properties.

On the one hand, this does not prevent the study of nanotubes in the laboratory, but on the other hand, it is not possible to use microscopes to examine the properties of these structures in their industrial production when it is necessary to «test» the materials survived the contact with the tip of the microscope.

Using this technique, Russian and Portuguese physicists have measured the properties of nanotubes made of short protein molecules. With this technique, scientists were able to directly measure how much change the size of these nanotubes under the action of electric fields.

«The piezoelectric effect allows to convert electric signal into mechanical, and Vice versa. According to this principle are, for example, microphones, ultrasound machines and miniature motors in the camera lens. Typically, piezoelectric properties and elasticity are measured separately. A new method we can measure them simultaneously and it does not destroy the objects of study,» concludes physicist.