Electron microscopy of the operation of nanoscale devices

John Cumings, David Goldhaber-Gordon, A. Zettl, Martha McCartney, John Spence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A transmission electron microscope (TEM) is much more than just a tool for imaging the static state of materials. To demonstrate this, we present work on studying the mechanical and electrical properties of carbon nanotube devices. Multiwall carbon nanotubes are concentrically stacked tubular sheets of graphite, where the spacing between each cylinder is simply the natural spacing of graphite. Using a custom-built in-situ nanomanipulation probe, we have shown that it is possible to slide the nanotube layers in a telescopic extension mode that exhibits low friction, demonstrating the potential of nanotubes as the ultimate synthetic nanobearing. During this telescopic extension, the electrical resistance of the nanotube devices increases, opening the possibility that these devices can also be used as nanoscale rheostats. We also briefly describe work on using electron holography inside a TEM to study the electric field distribution in nanotube field-emission devices and on using a nanotube itself as a biprism for electron holography. These measurements together demonstrate the wealth of information that can be obtained and frontiers that can be opened by putting operational nanodevices inside an electron microscope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
EditorsD.C. Martin, D.A. Muller, P.A. Midgley, E.A. Stach
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2005
Event2004 MRS Fall Meeting - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 29 2004Dec 1 2004


Other2004 MRS Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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