Open Access Nano Express

Nanoparticle manipulation by thermal gradient

Ning Wei1, Hui-Qiong Wang12* and Jin-Cheng Zheng13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physics and Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics, Xiamen University, Xiamen, 361005, China

2 Fujian Key Lab of Semiconductor Materials and Applications, Xiamen University, Xiamen, 361005, China

3 Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, Xiamen University, Xiamen, 361005, China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:154  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-154

Published: 26 February 2012

Abstract

A method was proposed to manipulate nanoparticles through a thermal gradient. The motion of a fullerene molecule enclosed inside a (10, 10) carbon nanotube with a thermal gradient was studied by molecular dynamics simulations. We created a one-dimensional potential valley by imposing a symmetrical thermal gradient inside the nanotube. When the temperature gradient was large enough, the fullerene sank into the valley and became trapped. The escaping velocities of the fullerene were evaluated based on the relationship between thermal gradient and thermophoretic force. We then introduced a new way to manipulate the position of nanoparticles by translating the position of thermostats with desirable thermal gradients. Compared to nanomanipulation using a scanning tunneling microscope or an atomic force microscope, our method for nanomanipulation has a great advantage by not requiring a direct contact between the probe and the object.

Keywords:
molecular dynamics simulation; thermal gradient; thermophoresis; manipulation; carbon nanotube; mass transport