Manipulation of Carbon nanotubes using Scanning Probe Microscopes

MinFeng Yua, Mark J. Dyerb, Henry Rohrsa, XueKun Lua, Kevin Ausmana, Jim Von Ehr b, Rodney S. Ruoff*, a

aDepartment of Physics, Washington University at St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
bZyvex L L C, 251 West Renner Parkway, Suite 166, Richardson, Texas 75080

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
Sixth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
The full article is available at


Recent theoretical and experimental investigations on carbon nanotubes indicate properties suitable for applications in nanoelectronics. Devices comprised of nanotubes and other prefabricated nanoscale components require manipulation and construction approaches beyond conventional lithographic and layering techniques. The atomic force microscope (AFM) and scanning electron microscope (SEM) can be powerful tools for visualizing and manipulating nanometer scale objects for such constructions. We describe the manipulation of carbon nanotubes on surfaces and present results from these operations in air and SEM vacuum environments.

Carbon nanotubes randomly deposited on silicon surfaces in air are initially imaged using the AFM. When a nanotube is selected, software manipulation routines suspend imaging in order to perform pushing or dragging operations along predetermined vectors with the AFM tip. AFM imaging is then restored and results from the manipulation operations are examined. In the SEM, a custom piezoelectric manipulation stage permits one rotational and three linear degrees-of-freedom movement under the electron beam with step resolutions approaching those of scanning probe microscopes. Like other hybrid AFM/SEM microscopes, this technique has the advantage over probe microscopes alone in that manipulations can be performed during imaging; however, our approach can extend beyond surface motions into three dimensions. In this talk, we report the results of manipulation experiments using these devices, and the instrumentation and techniques applied.

*Corresponding Address:
Rodney S. Ruoff
Physics Department, Washington University
CB1105, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO63130.
Tel: 314-935-8746
Email:, Web: