Densest array of carbon nanotubes grown to date

September 20, 2013
Scanning electron microscope images are of CNT forests with low and high density. Credit: Hisashi Sugime/U.Cambridge

Carbon nanotubes' outstanding mechanical, electrical and thermal properties make them an alluring material to electronics manufacturers. However, until recently scientists believed that growing the high density of tiny graphene cylinders needed for many microelectronics applications would be difficult.

Now a team from Cambridge University in England has devised a simple technique to increase the density of nanotube forests grown on conductive supports about five times over previous methods. The high density nanotubes might one day replace some metal electronic components, leading to faster devices. The researchers report their finding in the journal Applied Physics Letters, which is produced by AIP Publishing.

"The high density aspect is often overlooked in many carbon nanotube growth processes, and is an unusual feature of our approach," says John Robertson, a professor in the electronic devices and materials group in the department of engineering at Cambridge. High-density forests are necessary for certain applications of carbon nanotubes, like electronic interconnects and thermal interface materials, he says.

Robertson and his colleagues grew carbon nanotubes on a conductive that was coated with co-catalysts cobalt and molybdenum. In a novel approach, the researchers grew at lower temperature than is typical which is applicable in the . When the interaction of metals was analyzed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, it revealed the creation of a more supportive substrate for the forests to root in. The subsequent nanotube growth exhibited the highest mass density reported so far.

"In microelectronics, this approach to growing high-density carbon nanotube forests on conductors can potentially replace and outperform the current copper-based interconnects in a future generation of devices," says Cambridge researcher Hisashi Sugime. In the future, more robust forests may also help improve thermal interface materials, battery electrodes, and supercapacitors.

Explore further: The incredible shrinking circuit

More information: The article, "Low temperature growth of ultra-high mass density carbon nanotube forests on conductive supports" by Hisashi Sugime, Santiago Esconjauregui, Junwei Yang, Lorenzo D'arsié, Rachel A. Oliver, Sunil Bhardwaj, Cinzia Cepek and John Robertson appears in the journal Applied Physics Letters: dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4818619

Related Stories

The incredible shrinking circuit

March 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Just when it seemed that microchips couldn't get any tinier, a technique developed by researchers here at the University of Cambridge Engineering Department could lead to chips which are not only smaller, ...

Carbon nanotube forest camouflages 3-D objects

November 21, 2011

Carbon nanotubes, tiny cylinders composed of one-atom-thick carbon lattices, have gained fame as one of the strongest materials known to science. Now a group of researchers from the University of Michigan is taking advantage ...

Diamonds, nanotubes find common ground in graphene

May 28, 2013

What may be the ultimate heat sink is only possible because of yet another astounding capability of graphene. The one-atom-thick form of carbon can act as a go-between that allows vertically aligned carbon nanotubes to grow ...

Recommended for you

Neuromorphic computing mimics important brain feature

August 18, 2016

(Phys.org)—When you hear a sound, only some of the neurons in the auditory cortex of your brain are activated. This is because every auditory neuron is tuned to a certain range of sound, so that each neuron is more sensitive ...

'Artificial atom' created in graphene

August 22, 2016

In a tiny quantum prison, electrons behave quite differently as compared to their counterparts in free space. They can only occupy discrete energy levels, much like the electrons in an atom - for this reason, such electron ...

Picoscale precision though ultrathin film piezoelectricity

August 10, 2016

Piezoelectricity (aka the piezoelectric effect) occurs within certain materials – crystals (notably quartz), some ceramics, bone, DNA, and a number of proteins – when the application of mechanical stress or vibration ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.