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Fabrication and Mechanical Characterization of Carbon Nanotube Based Nanoknives



Gurpreet Singh, Paul Rice, Richard J. McIntosh, Roop L. Mahajan


A prototype microtome knife for cutting 100 nm thick slices of frozen-hydrated biological samples has been constructed using multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT). A piezoelectric-based 3-D manipulator was used inside a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to select and position individual MWCNTs, which were subsequently welded in place using electron beam-induced deposition (EBID). The device employs a pair of tungsten needles with provision to adjust the distance between the needle tips, accommodating various lengths of MWCNTs. We have performed experiments to test the breaking strength of the MWCNT in the completed device using an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip. An increasing force was applied at the midpoint of the nanotube till the point of failure, which was observed in-situ in the SEM. The initial force/deflection data appear promising, and efforts are underway to characterize and improve the strength of the device by conducting more such tests and modifying the welding process.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of IMECE 2006
Conference Dates
November 5-10, 2006
Conference Location
Chicago, IL, US
Conference Title
2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition


nanoknife, carbon nanotubes, EBID welding, frozen-hydrated biological samples, TEM sample preparation, diamond knife, microtome


Singh, G. , Rice, P. , McIntosh, R. and Mahajan, R. (2006), Fabrication and Mechanical Characterization of Carbon Nanotube Based Nanoknives, Proceedings of IMECE 2006, Chicago, IL, US, [online], (Accessed April 22, 2024)
Created November 4, 2006, Updated October 12, 2021