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The Atoms Matter: Lattice registry effects in NEMS devices

Richard Superfine*

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 USA

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
Eighth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
There will be a link from here to the full article when it is available on the web.


NanoElectroMechanical Devices (NEMS) involve the relative motion of one interface past a second. The properties of this interface, including its electrical, mechanical and tribological characteristics, ultimately depend on the arrangement of the atoms. Recently, we have shown how the alignment of two atomic lattices has dramatic effects on the friction and dynamics of the objects in contact. Through atomic force microscopy manipulation, we have shown the carbon nanotubes show the full range of dynamics including sliding and rolling. On graphite, the atomic lattices can come into registry, and the interlocking atoms cause the nanotube to roll. The atomic lattices also dictate the electronic states at the interface. We have measured the electrical properties of atomic lattices in contact and show a change in the contact resistance of over one decade as the lattices move in and out of registry. The further implications of the mechanical and electrical properties of contacting lattices in NEMS devices will be explored, including applications in actuators, encoders and oscillators.

*Corresponding Address:
Richard Superfine
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 USA


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