from the alternatives dept.
A simple method of producing non-carbon nanotubes has been developed by O.G. Schmidt and K. Eberl, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany. The new technique makes it possible to prepare tubes from very different substances, such as silicon, as well as to vary their dimensions and to deposit the nano objects very exactly. Their method employs a strained semiconductor sheet that springs free of a crystalline substrate that holds it flat; the sheet then curls up into a nanotube.
According to the researchers, "Deposition techniques are capable of combining materials of almost unlimited diversity, including semiconductors, insulators, metals, polymers, etc. This richness will create new nano-objects of unknown diversity, which will find their fortune in the wide and interdisciplinary fields of micro- and nano-electromechanical systems."
Details of the work are reported in Nature, v410:168 (8 March 2001).