Methods by which the growth of a nanostructure may be precisely controlled by an electrical current are described here. In one embodiment, an interior nanostructure is grown to a predetermined geometry inside another nanostructure, which serves as a reaction chamber. The growth is effected by a catalytic agent loaded with feedstock for the interior nanostructure. Another embodiment allows a preexisting marginal quality nanostructure to be zone refined into a higher-quality nanostructure by driving a catalytic agent down a controlled length of the nanostructure with an electric current. In both embodiments, the speed of nanostructure formation is adjustable, and the growth may be stopped and restarted at will. The catalytic agent may be doped or undoped to produce semiconductor effects, and the bead may be removed via acid etching.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL FUNDING
 This invention was made with U.S. Government support under Contract Number DE-AC02-05CH11231 between the U.S. Department of Energy and The Regents of the University of California for the management and operation of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The U.S. Government has certain rights in this invention.