Open Access Nano Express

Radial Corrugations of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Driven by Inter-Wall Nonbonding Interactions

Xu Huang, Wentao Liang and Sulin Zhang*

Author affiliations

Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Res Lett 2011, 6:53  doi:10.1007/s11671-010-9801-0

Published: 30 September 2010


We perform large-scale quasi-continuum simulations to determine the stable cross-sectional configurations of free-standing multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). We show that at an inter-wall spacing larger than the equilibrium distance set by the inter-wall van der Waals (vdW) interactions, the initial circular cross-sections of the MWCNTs are transformed into symmetric polygonal shapes or asymmetric water-drop-like shapes. Our simulations also show that removing several innermost walls causes even more drastic cross-sectional polygonization of the MWCNTs. The predicted cross-sectional configurations agree with prior experimental observations. We attribute the radial corrugations to the compressive stresses induced by the excessive inter-wall vdW energy release of the MWCNTs. The stable cross-sectional configurations provide fundamental guidance to the design of single MWCNT-based devices and shed lights on the mechanical control of electrical properties.

Carbon nanotubes; Radial corrugation; Quasi-continuum; vdW interactions