We report here that high energy electron irradiation of multiwalled boron nitride nanotubes can be used to form sharp, crystalline, conical tips, or to cut boron nitride nanotubes by controlling the electron beam size. Electron beam cutting is observed when a focused electron beam with a diameter much smaller than the tube diameter is used. The tip formation is observed when a shaped, disklike, electron beam is used to irradiate the tube; the diameter of the beam in this case is similar to the tube diameter. In situ electron microscopy observation shows that the tip formation effect is driven by layer peeling and the collapse of the inner walls of the nanotube. This is very different from the formation of nanoarches observed during cutting. The combination of shaping and cutting can be used to fabricate atomically sharp tips for field emitters, nanoimaging, and manipulations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)