The scientists and engineers who spur on the continuous evolution of computers and other electronic devices are on the verge of creating new generations of products based on nanotechnology. Delphine Bouilly, a doctoral student in physics at the Université de Montréal, is adding her stamp to these developments by studying the electrical properties of double-walled carbon nanotubes. These cylindrical molecules are made from two coaxial layers of graphite one atom thick and are potential materials for the next wave of transistors.
As part of research conducted for her master’s studies, Bouilly discovered that the electrical responses of double-walled carbon nanotubes show specific signatures depending on their configuration, information she is building on during her doctoral research. Working in a group that includes chemists, physicists and engineers, and using state-of-the-art fabrication facilities, she will test the properties of numerous configurations of nanotubes. Understanding and controlling interaction between the two walls of the nanotube and between the nanotube and the outside environment, a little-studied area to date, can lead to a number of high-tech developments.
Electronics based on nanostructures and self-assembling molecules hold particular promise for so-called "intelligent" devices, with potential applications in biomedical devices, chemical sensors and solar collectors.