The customizable nanotube might no longer be a flight of fancy.
Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been able to shrink carbon nanotubes to a specific diameter, something that hasn’t been done before. In previous experiments, nanotube production has been all well and good, except that its shape and eventual size can’t be accurately controlled. That’s a problem if you want to use the little buggers to make transistors.
The key to the process is an electron beam fired at a nanotube, knocking the carbon atoms out of their normal place and making them reassemble in a made-to-order form, courtesy of a simultaneous current generated by an attached gold electrode. The resulting success holds great promise for the aforementioned transistor manufacturing.
The process still needs modification, of course, but scientists are much closer to being able to use nanotechnology to produce transistors than they were before.