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Would a molecule thick blade separate material by enough distance to damage it?

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Nov26-12, 09:20 PM
P: 139
I don't know if this should be in general physics.

In science fiction the concept of a "mono-molecular blade" exists, this being a blade with an edge that it the thickness of a single molecule, or thinner.

Ignoring considerations of material strength, would this blade actually do anything? I had the idea that a very thin blade might pass between atoms and leave them unaffected if they were not forced apart far enough to affect their atomic bonds?
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Dec29-12, 09:02 PM
P: 4
Since no one else answered i would say if it can get through it separated the bonds, and though it may or may not cause much damage it did something. other wise people could walk through walls
Dec30-12, 01:35 AM
Drakkith's Avatar
P: 12,005
I believe it is the EDGE of the blade that is monomolecular, not the whole blade itself, so I would assume the rest of the blade would rip apart the bonds if the blade itself was strong enough. The monomolecular edge functions as a very fine "wedge" to start the process I believe. An edge that isn't monomolecular can't get "between" the molecules/atoms of the material it's trying to go through, so you have to apply a lot more force to start cutting.

I THINK that's how it works.

Dec30-12, 10:39 AM
PF Gold
P: 40
Would a molecule thick blade separate material by enough distance to damage it?

I've read a lot of SF that employed that idea. The "wedge" theory makes sense to me.

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