EurekAlert: Harvard University: 2010 Apr 06
Field Ionization of Cold Atoms near the Wall of a Single Carbon NanotubeCarbon nanotubes, long touted for applications in materials and electronics, may also be the stuff of atomic-scale black holes.
Physicists at Harvard University have found that a high-voltage nanotube can cause cold atoms to spiral inward under dramatic acceleration before disintegrating violently. Their experiments, the first to demonstrate something akin to a black hole at atomic scale, are described in the current issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
- Physical Review Letters 104, 133002 (2010 Apr 02) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.133002
Launched laser-cooled atoms are captured by a single, suspended, single-wall
carbon nanotube charged to hundreds of volts. A captured atom spirals towards
the nanotube (white path) and reaches the environs of the tube surface, where
its valence electron (yellow) tunnels into the tube. The resulting ion (purple) is
ejected and detected, and the dynamics at the nanoscale are sensitively probed.
(Anne Goodsell and Tommi Hakala/Harvard University)