Researchers normally think of carbon nanotubes as tiny, stiff rods, but when rinsed in water and dried slowly, they bend into a variety of shapes, such as this nanotube "nest." Image Credit: Phys. Rev. Lett. 92 065502 (2004)
Researchers have assembled carbon nanotubes into arrays of loops, lassos, and hooks. Physicists hope to use these several-nanometer-diameter tubes to build tiny mechanical and electronic devices, and the unexpected bending shows that they are more versatile than had been assumed. As one example, these bent tubes might lead to more sensitive sensors to detect fluid flow. .