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What to make of it.

Cheers
Qazulight

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/04/understanding-...

At this point, the speeding atoms separate into an electron and an ion rotating in parallel around the nanowire, completing each orbit in just a few trillionths of a second. The electron eventually gets sucked into the nanotube via quantum tunneling, causing its companion ion to shoot away — repelled by the strong charge of the 300-volt nanotube — at a speed of roughly 26 kilometers per second, or 59,000 miles per hour.At this point, the speeding atoms separate into an electron and an ion rotating in parallel around the nanowire, completing each orbit in just a few trillionths of a second. The electron eventually gets sucked into the nanotube via quantum tunneling, causing its companion ion to shoot away — repelled by the strong charge of the 300-volt nanotube — at a speed of roughly 26 kilometers per second, or 59,000 miles per hour.
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Qazulight,

You wrote, What to make of it.

Certainly no "black hole" as the ridiculous author implies. But the effect is interesting. I wonder why the valence electron was attracted to the (positively?) charged nanotube?

Its kind of interesting that the nanowire has sufficient magnetic attraction to strip off a valence electron; but once I think it through, I suppose I'm not really that surprised. The attraction would simply be a function of distance and charge (potential). The greater the potential, the further out the effect should occur. I also wonder what practical applications it might have?

I suppose if you had a large number of charged nanowires in a confined space, you could get a much higher probability of collision. You could also increase the probability (and the resulting velocity of the out-bound ion) if you increased the wire's charge. That could result in the production of usable numbers of ions. But what could you use them for?

If you could make the effect directional, it might make for a more compact and efficient ion engine. The ion velocities already seem similar to existing engine designs. But as long as the effect is not directional (I assume the ions will fly off in any direction more or less along a plane perpendicular to the wire), this just seems like a curious way to quickly super-heat a (tiny fraction of a) super-cold substance.

- Joel
Who's a programmer - not a physicist, chemist, rocket scientist or even an electrical engineer and has very limited knowledge in this area.
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