This exhibit demonstrates how the electrical conductivity in carbon nanotubes is different from the conductivity in copper metal. Participants race “electrons” through the two structures, and observe that the “electron” (or ball bearing) passes more quickly through the CNT model. Why is the CNT a better conductors? In copper metal, electrons travel in all 3 dimensions. While traveling through a wire, they bump and scatter off copper atoms. The scattering slows down electrons. The scattered electrons lose energy in the form of heat. In a CNT, electrons travel along the length of the nanotube. Electrons have fewer obstacles to bump and scatter off. The fewer the obstacles the less scattering occurs. The electrons lose less energy and move up to three times as fast.
- 2 ball bearings
- Electron race tabletop exhibit