Tesla coil zaps nanotubes into a self-assembling circuit

Next stop: self-assembly at a macro scale.

Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

    Sponsored Links

    Carbon nanotubes have gotten fanfare for rebooting Moore's Law and possibly powering the next generation of space probes, but that's not all the versatile material can do. How about shocking nanotubes with an electricity gun until they line up into neat little rows? Scientists at Rice University are firing a force field from a tesla coil at piles of carbon nanotubes until they self-assemble in a process called "Teslaphoresis".

    The force field oscillates positive and negative charges in each nanotube until they line up. These chains of nanotubes can form a structure and even carry a current. They light up LEDs, which are wirelessly powered by energy absorbed from the tesla coil's force field.

    "Normally when you talk about building circuits, you have to have physical contact. Now they're talking about building circuits without actually touching them," says Rice University scientist Carter Kattrell in a video.

    Pointing your lightning beam at carbon nanotubes to do your bidding is cool, but rearranging them has possibilities beyond just lighting up your Christmas tree. Depending on how they're configured, they can make a material that is stronger and lighter than kevlar or make the blackest fabric known to man.

    Self-assembly via electric fields isn't new, but it's only been done at extremely short ranges. The Rice scientists saw Teslaphoresis line up nanotubes from several feet away, and believe the process could chain them from the bottom-up into macro structures.

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
    Comment
    Comments
    Share
    Tweet
    Share

    Popular on Engadget

    Dell XPS 13 review (2020): Tweaked to near-perfection

    Dell XPS 13 review (2020): Tweaked to near-perfection

    View
    Sony debuts $200 headphones with powerful ANC and long battery life

    Sony debuts $200 headphones with powerful ANC and long battery life

    View
    Apple lets Amazon rent movies inside Prime Video's iPhone app

    Apple lets Amazon rent movies inside Prime Video's iPhone app

    View
    SpaceX aborts Falcon 9 launch with rare 'Liftoff! Disregard' sequence

    SpaceX aborts Falcon 9 launch with rare 'Liftoff! Disregard' sequence

    View
    Intel's 10th-gen H-series laptop CPUs reach 5.3GHz

    Intel's 10th-gen H-series laptop CPUs reach 5.3GHz

    View

    From around the web

    Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr