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March 7, 2012


Professor David Tomanek
Department of Physics and Astronomy; Michigan State University

"Buckyballs, Nanotubes, Graphene:  Nanomaterials for the Future"

Abstract. Structure on the nanometer scale defines functionality of materials and may lead to unexpected physical behavior. Since the discovery of the C60 buckyball three decades ago, a plethora of carbon nanostructures captured the imagination of scientists. Not only nanotubes and graphene emerged as unique systems, but also artificial superlattices of carbon nanotubes, rigidly connected to a 3D sp2 bonded schwarzite structure [1], which are nearly as incompressible as diamond. Irradiation by monochromatic light or ions may be used as unique tools for nanostructure engineering, since the electronic excitations following such perturbations modify the force field and open up new reaction pathways. The possibility to break or to form new bonds may help to heal atomic-scale defects in nanotubes, convert graphite to diamond or graphene [2,3] (see Fig. 1), and create nanostructures with an unusual geometry. Changes in sound absorption on the sub-nanometer scale, as probed by Damping Force Spectroscopy, can be used to gain information about structural changes in the surface and subsurface region [4] (see Fig. 2). Since direct observation of atomic-scale processes following specific local perturbations is very hard by experimental means, computer simulations are a welcome alternative to gain insight into the underlying Physics.

Vanderbilt University