We perform large-scale quasi-continuum simulations to determine the stable cross-sectional configurations of free-standing multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). We show that at an inter-wall spacing larger than the equilibrium distance set by the inter-wall van der Waals (vdW) interactions, the initial circular cross-sections of the MWCNTs are transformed into symmetric polygonal shapes or asymmetric water-drop-like shapes. Our simulations also show that removing several innermost walls causes even more drastic cross-sectional polygonization of the MWCNTs. The predicted cross-sectional configurations agree with prior experimental observations. We attribute the radial corrugations to the compressive stresses induced by the excessive inter-wall vdW energy release of the MWCNTs. The stable cross-sectional configurations provide fundamental guidance to the design of single MWCNT-based devices and shed lights on the mechanical control of electrical properties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics