Closed-shell carbon nanostructures, such as carbon onions, have been shown to act as self-contracting high-pressure cells under electron irradiation. We report that controlled irradiation of multiwalled carbon nanotubes can cause large pressure buildup within the nanotube cores that can plastically deform, extrude, and break solid materials that are encapsulated inside the core. We further showed by atomistic simulations that the internal pressure inside nanotubes can reach values higher than 40 gigapascals. Nanotubes can thus be used as robust nanoscale jigs for extruding and deforming hard nanomaterials and for modifying their properties, as well as templates for the study of individual nanometer-sized crystals under high pressure.
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