Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

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

  1. Nov 26, 2012 #1
    Would a "molecule thick" blade separate material by enough distance to damage it?

    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?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2012 #2
    Re: Would a "molecule thick" blade separate material by enough distance to damage it?

    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
     
  4. Dec 30, 2012 #3

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

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

    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.
     
  5. Dec 30, 2012 #4

    chasrob

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: 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.:wink:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Would a molecule thick blade separate material by enough distance to damage it?
Loading...