Temperature problem in nano objects.

Temperature problem in nano objects.

Some researchers specialized in Physics have discovered something very strange: the concept of temperature does not make sense in the smallest objects, that is, in nano-objects.

Although the concept of temperature is known to unravel on the scale of individual atoms, the most current research points to the possibility that it is also meaningless in larger devices, such as carbon nanotubes.

Nanotechnology is the science that makes it possible to manipulate materials made of just a few thousand atoms. Carbon nanotubes for example are tiny cylinders that make it possible to manufacture miniature electronic devices.

Ortwin Hess of the University of Surrey and his team of researchers say that if you measure the temperature of one tip of a 10-micrometer nanotube, it would not necessarily have the same temperature as the other tip. The length of a nanotube of these characteristics is about the thickness of a sheet of paper.

By reaching a scale where temperature is irrelevant, it is impossible to predict changes in the physical properties of your system and this poses problems for any device according to Peter Atkins, an expert in Physical Chemistry at the University of Oxford.

According to Hess, the fact that temperature falls apart sometime between the real world and the atomic scale is not surprising. The current challenge is to determine when this fact occurs, something that can vary depending on what material it is and how much energy in terms of heat it retains.

Atkins says "our daily experience of temperature represents a signal for the flow of energy as heat." In the real world, heat flows from objects of a higher temperature to objects of a lower temperature, so a cup of tea feels hot when we take it and the heat reaches our hands.

On the atomic scale as well, temperature describes the distribution of heat energy among the trillions of atoms and molecules that make up our world, but not when it is a single atom.

With their current research, Hess and his team increasingly reduced the size of a chain of boxes, until they reached the point where they believe that the temperature is no longer a constant. The result of his research could be worrying for nano-scientists.

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