from the Molectronics dept.
An article in Science News ("Chemists decorate nanotubes for usefulness", by J. Gorman, 23 June 2001) describes work by researchers who have developed a new technique for attaching groups of atoms to the sides of carbon nanotubes, creating compounds with extraordinary strength and conductivity. The article is not available at the SN website, but is reprinted on the SmallTimes website. The work is described in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (123:6536).
The research team was led by James Tour of Rice University and Paul Weiss of Pennsylvania State University. The article suggests the functionalized carbon nanotubes could be used for making electronic circuits that are far tinier than today's silicon-based circuitry. Doing so will require chemically hooking carbon nanotubes to other microscopic electronic components, comments Weiss. One of the functional groups that the Rice researchers successfully attached to carbon nanotubes has exhibited both memory and switching behaviors necessary for electronic devices, says Tour. The researchers are investigating whether a nanotube and its functional groups retain their desirable strength, conductivity, and chemical traits after they're combined.
As noted here on nanodot, a team led by Tour and Weiss announced in June 2001 that they have demonstrated single molecules that switch between "on" and "off" states based in part on conformational changes.