Just as the sharp point of a lightning rod modifies the electrical
properties of space above a building, so too will certain highly curved
(on a nanoscopic scale) surfaces modify the electromagnetic properties
of physical vacuum in their vicinity. This changes the behavior of an
atom near nanobodies (quantum dots, nanospheres, nanocylinders, etc.).
Generally called the Purcell effect, the phenomenon happens because
an excited electron inside the outside atom strongly senses the modified
structure of physical vacuum near surfaces in its vicinity.
New calculations performed by physicists at the Belarusian State University
in Minsk show that due to unique conducting properties of carbon nanotubes
the fluorescence rate of an excited atom or molecule in their vicinity
should be enhanced by as much as million, a much greater effect than
for other geometries studied. The Purcell effect has been observed in
many of these other cases, and the Belarusian scientists (contact Prof.
Sergei Maksimenko, firstname.lastname@example.org) hope to find collaborators to test
their nanotube hypothesis. The hope is to exploit the enhanced spontaneous
decay rate to control the behavior of nuclei, atoms, or organic molecules
outside or inside nanotubes. (Bondarev
et al., Physical Review Letters, 9 September 2002.)