A mechanism for cutting carbon nanotubes with a scanning tunneling microscope
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We discuss the local cutting of single-walled carbon nanotubes by a voltage pulse to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope. The tip voltage (\(\) V) is the key physical quantity in the cutting process. After reviewing several possible physical mechanisms we conclude that the cutting process relies on the weakening of the carbon-carbon bonds through a combination of localized particle-hole excitations induced by inelastically tunneling electrons and elastic deformation due to the electric field between tip and sample. The carbon network releases part of the induced mechanical stress by forming topological defects that act as nucleation centers for the formation of dislocations that dynamically propagate towards bond-breaking.
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