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We calculate effects of an applied helically symmetric potential on the low energy electronic spectrum of a carbon nanotube in the continuum approximation. The spectrum depends on the strength of this potential and on a dimensionless geometrical parameter, P, which is the ratio of the circumference of the nanotube to the pitch of the helix. We find that the minimum band gap of a semiconducting nanotube is reduced by an arbitrarily weak helical potential, and for a given field strength there is an optimal P which produces the biggest change in the band gap. For metallic nanotubes the Fermi velocity is reduced by this potential and for strong fields two small gaps appear at the Fermi surface in addition to the gapless Dirac point. A simple model is developed to estimate the magnitude of the field strength and its effect on DNA-carbon nanotube complexes in an aqueous solution. We find that under typical experimental conditions the predicted effects of a helical potential are likely to be small and we discuss several methods for increasing the size of these effects.
Date Posted: 25 January 2011
This document has been peer reviewed.