On The Cutting Edge

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder have designed a carbon nanotube knife that could theoretically work like a tight-wire cheese slicer. The conventional diamond or glass knives that biologists use to cut frozen cell samples often force samples to bend and crack. Because carbon nanotubes are extremely strong and slender in diameter, they make ideal materials for thinly cutting precise slivers of cells.

Why do we need to slice cells? Electron tomography can create 3D images of cells and tissues for scientists to stuy, but the sample needs to be less than 300 nanometers thick. The nanoknife is a carbon nanotude welded to two electrochemically sharpened tungsten needles. The research team has found that the welds were the weakest points in the nanoknife, and are now looking for new and improved welding techniques.

Source:On The Cutting Edge: Carbon Nanotube Cutlery

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