We have developed a series of processes for preparing carbon nanotube devices of probes and tweezers that operate in scanning probe microscope (SPM). The main developments are a nanotube cartridge where nanotubes are aligned at a knife-edge to be easily picked up one by one and a scanning-electron-microscope manipulator by which a nanotube is transferred from the nanotube cartridge onto a Si tip under observing its view.
We have also developed the electron ablation of a nanotube to adjust its length and the sharpening of a multiwall nanotube to have its inner layer with or without an end cap at the tip. For the sharpening process, the free end of a nanotube protruded from the cartridge was attached onto a metal-coated Si tip and the voltage was applied to the nanotube. At a high voltage giving the saturation of current, the current decreased stepwise in the temporal variation, indicating the sequential destruction of individual nanotube layers. The nanotube was finally cut at the middle of the nanotube bridge, and its tip was sharpened to have an inner layer with an opened end. Moving up the cartridge before cutting enables us to extract the inner layer with an end cap.
It is evidenced that the maximum current at each layer during the stepwise decrease depends on its circumference, and the force for extracting the inner layer with ∼ 5nm diameter is ∼ 4 nN.