U.S. scientists say they have a new technique that could provide detailed information about the growth of nanoscale structures as they are being produced.

The researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology said the newly developed technique offers a way to rapidly and systematically map how changes in growth conditions are affecting fabrication.

Instead of a large furnace that is normally used to grow nanotubes as part of the chemical vapor deposition process, the Georgia researchers grew bundles of nanotubes on a micro-heater built into an atomic force microscope tip. The tiny device provided highly localized heating for only the locations where researchers wanted to grow the nanostructures.

Since the resonance frequency changed as the nanotubes grew, the researchers used it to accurately measure the mass of the structures they produced.

The scientists say the next step in the research will be to combine the growth and measurement processes to permit in-situ study of mass change during nanostructure growth.

The research is reported in the journal Applied Physics Letters.