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We studied the oxygen etching of individual single-walled carbon nanotubes on silicon oxide substrates using atomic force microscopy and high-temperature environmental scanning electron microscopy. Our in situ observations show that carbon nanotubes are not progressively etched from their ends, as frequently assumed, but disappear segment by segment. Atomic force microscopy, before and after oxidation, reveals that the oxidation of carbon nanotubes on substrates proceeds through a local cutting that is followed by a rapid etching of the disconnected nanotube segment. Unexpectedly, semiconducting nanotubes appear more reactive under these conditions than metallic ones. We also show that exposure to electron and laser beams locally increases the chemical reactivity of carbon nanotubes on such substrates. These results are rationalized by considering the effect of substrate-trapped charges on the nanotube density of states close to the Fermi level, which is impacted by the substrate type and the exposure to electron and laser beams.

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Publication history

Received: 04 September 2015
Revised: 26 October 2015
Accepted: 29 October 2015
Published: 10 December 2015
Issue date: February 2016

Copyright

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by European Office of Aerospace Research and Development (EOARD) and United States Air Force (USAF) (No. FA8655-12-1-2059).

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Reprints and Permission requests may be sought directly from editorial office.
Email: nanores@tup.tsinghua.edu.cn

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