Willmore energy for joining of carbon nanostructures
Numerous types of carbon nanostructure have been found experimentally, including nanotubes, fullerenes and nanocones. These structures have applications in various nanoscale devices and the joining of these structures may lead to further new configurations with more remarkable properties and applications. The join profile between different carbon nanostructures in a symmetric configuration may be modelled using the calculus of variations. In previous studies, carbon nanostructures were assumed to deform according to perfect elasticity, thus the elastic energy, depending only on the axial curvature, was used to determine the join profile consisting of a finite number of discrete bonds. However, one could argue that the relevant energy should also involve the rotational curvature, especially when its size is comparable to the axial curvature. In this paper, we use the Willmore energy, a natural generalisation of the elastic energy that depends on both the axial and rotational curvatures. Catenoids are absolute minimisers of this energy and pieces of these may be used to join various nanostructures. We focus on the cases of joining a fullerene to a nanotube and joining two fullerenes along a common axis. By comparing our results with the earlier work, we find that both energies give similar joining profiles. Further work on other configurations may reveal which energy provides a better model.