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Electron-beam deposition is used to fabricate free-standing carbon nanoelectrodes separated by a gap of less than 5 nm. Fabrication is carried out under direct visual control in an electron microscope. After coating the carbon electrodes with a thin metal film (e.g., AuPd) such structures can be used to study electrical transport properties of single molecules (e.g., conjugated polymers) or metal nanoclusters. The fabrication process of the nanowires is described in detail. Furthermore, we suggest electrostatic trapping as a new method to bridge the electrodes with a single conducting nanoparticle in a controlled way. This principle was tested successfully on Pd nanoclusters and carbon nanotubes. © 1997 American Vacuum Society.