Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Physics

Major Professor

Lilia M. Woods, Ph.D.

Keywords

DNA molecules, Radicals, Nanostructures, Nanotechnology, Van der Waals interactions, Electronic band structure

Abstract

Carbon nanotubes have unique electronic, optical, mechanical, and transport properties which make them an important element of nanoscience and nanotechnology. However, successful application and integration of carbon nanotubes into new nanodevices requires fundamental understanding of their property changes under the influence of many external factors. This dissertation presents qualitative and quantitative theoretical understanding of property changes, while carbon nanotubes are exposed to the deformations, defects, external electric fields, and adsorption. Adsorption mechanisms due to Van der Waals dispersion forces are analyzed first for the interactions of graphitic materials and biological molecules with carbon nanotubes.

In particular, the calculations are performed for the carbon nanotubes and graphene nanoribbons, DNA bases, and their radicals on the surface of carbon nanotubes in terms of binding energies, structural changes, and electronic properties alterations. The results have shown the importance of many-body effects and discrete nature of system, which are commonly neglected in many calculations for Van der Waals forces in the nanotube interactions with other materials at nanoscale. Then, the effect of the simultaneous application of two external factors, such as radial deformation and different defects (a Stone Wales, nitrogen impurity, and mono-vacancy) on properties of carbon nanotubes is studied. The results reveal significant changes in mechanical, electrical, and magnetic characteristics of nanotubes. The complicated interplay between radial deformation and different kinds of defects leads to the appearance of magnetism in carbon nanotubes which does not exist in perfect ones.

Moreover, the combined effect of radial deformation and external electric fields on their electronic properties is shown for the first time. As a result, metal-semiconductor or semiconductor-metal transitions occur and are strongly correlated with the strength and direction of external electric field and the degree of radial deformations.

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