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A Nanoanalysis Tool for the Nanotechnology of Tomorrow

Christian Colliex (January 1997)

The rapidly expanding field of carbon physico-chemistry is more and more interested in carbon nanotubes. A method for local analysis of the chemical and electronic properties of such individual objects, i.e. electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), has been developed and fruitfully used by a team of the Laboratoire de Physique des Solides (CNRS-University Paris 11), in Orsay, under the guidance of Christian Colliex. This technique uses a high energy electron beam, issued from a field emission source, and focused onto the specimen as a subnanometre probe. As a first step it has been used to perform spectroscopic measurements with a very high spatial resolution on single well individualised carbon nanotubes. More recently, beyond the mere elemental analysis, the Orsay team has evidenced modifications in unoccupied states density for tubes with different diameters and consisting of a single or several graphitic atomic layers. These modifications are induced, respectively, by the more or less important curvature and by the presence or the absence of adjacent layers in these tubular structures. Such a spectroscopy analysis tool is well suited to understand and master the synthesis processes of these new nanostructures, which are appearing at an impressive rate, and whose prospects of applications are promising in various fields such as catalysis, electronics or new nanostructured composite materials.

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