Diagram of a carbon nanotube transistor, an electronic device based on a single rolled-up sheet of carbon atoms. In the figure, a carbon nanotube (red; about 1 nanometer in diameter) bridges two closely separated platinum electrodes (labelled in yellow as "source" and "drain" electrodes; spaced 400 nm apart) atop a silicon surface coated with an insulating silicon oxide layer. Applying an electric field to the silicon (via a "gate electrode," not shown) turns on and off the flow of current across the nanotube, by controlling the movement of charge carriers onto the nanotube. (Courtesy Cees Dekker, Delft Institute of Technology, the Netherlands.)
This research was reported in the 7 May 1998 issue of Nature.