Rare Earth Element Allows Carbon Nanotubes to Have a High Electron Transfer

24 May 2018

The next big development in nanoelectronics may be coming from researchers at the University of Witwatersrand (UW), South Africa. The research team has found a way to control the spin transport in networks of the smallest electrical conductor in the world, the carbon nanotube. Carbon nanotubes are the thinnest nanotubes in the universe because they are a cylinder of single carbon atoms.

This is Siphephile Ncube. Source: Wits UniversityThis is Siphephile Ncube. Source: Wits University

The team chemically attached nanoparticles of magnetic gadolinium, one of the rarest earth elements. The electric conductivity of nanotubes can be increased when the spin properties of gadolinium are introduced. The magnetic properties allow the carbon nanotubes more freedom to have a higher electron transfer. The researchers chemically attached the gadolinium nanoparticles to the surface of the nanotubes. This tested if the magnetism is increased or inhibited the transfer of the electron system, which was proven acceptable.

"We found that the effect of the magnetic nanoparticles is read off in the electronic transport of the nanotubes. Due to the presence of the magnet, the electrons become spin polarised and the charge transfer is dependent on the magnetic state of the gadolinium. When the overall magnetic poles of the gadolinium are oppositely aligned, it causes higher resistance in the nanotubes and slows down the flows of electrons. When the magnetic poles are misaligned, it has a low resistance, and assists the electron transport," said Siphephile Ncube, a Ph.D. student at the Wits School of Physics and the lead author of the study.

All of the testing for this development was done at the Nanoscale Transport Physics Laboratory (NSTPL) at the UW campus.

The paper on this research was published in Scientific Reports.

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