By Nick Gilbert
A team of Chinese scientists has developed and evaluated models of a ‘nanoclutch,’ a tool to regulate the speed of nanomotors.
The nanoclutch comprises two carbon nanotubes, which are placed one inside the other and isolated by a water film. The friction between the outer and inner carbon nanotube walls and water is controlled by electrowetting forces. When an electrical charge is applied to the two carbon nanotubes, the water detained between them is able to pass on the torque from the inside tube to the outside tube. This torque transmission indicates that the device is in the engaged state. When the carbon nanotubes are not charged, then the device is said to be in the disengaged state.
The researchers have reported their proposed device in a paper titled ‘Carbon Nanotube-Based Charge-Controlled Speed-Regulating Nanoclutch,’ which is accepted for publication by the American Institute of Physics in its Journal of Applied Physics.
According to the researchers, their device is capable of performing stepless speed regulation by altering the level of the charge applied to the carbon nanotube atoms. Although more research is required, the researchers believe that their model will be useful in designing and fabricating nanorobots.
Authors of the paper include Zhi-Yong Ling, Zhong-Qiang Zhang, Guang-Gui Cheng, and Jian-Ning Ding from the Micro/Nano Science and Technology Center at the Jiangsu University; Yong-Gang Zheng and Hong-Fei Ye from the Dalian University of Technology; Zhen Liu from the School of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering at the Jiangsu University of Science and Technology; Lei Wang from the College of Mechanics and Materials at the Hohai University; and Jin-Bao Wang from the School of Naval Architecture & Civil Engineering at the Zhejiang Ocean University.