This illustration shows the interface between a growing carbon nanotube and a cobalt-tungsten catalyst. The atomic arrangement of the catalyst forces the nanotube to quickly transition from zigzag (blue) to armchair (red), which ultimately grows a nanotube that’s neither one nor the other, but nearly in the middle. The transition is a previously undiscovered characteristic of carbon nanotube growth. (Credit: Evgeni Penev/Rice University)

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