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Low-temperature Synthesis of Carbon Nanotubes by Selectively Heating Catalyst

Dr. Vasenkov recently provided Nano World News with updates on their technology.

Primary Market: Electronics
Technology Contact: Alex Vasenkov, CDF Research Corporation, Alabama

Researchers at CFD Research Corporation and NanoLab Inc., funded by NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, are developing a novel low-temperature synthesis of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes (VACNTs) and nanofibers (VACNFs). This low-temperature manufacturing process is critical to both decrease the cost and improve the quality of VACNTs/VACNFs-based materials and devices by eliminating post-synthesis steps which are difficult and expensive because of the VACNT/VACNF size. During Phase I efforts, CFDRC has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of controlling the growth temperature of VACNTs. During Phase II of this NSF project, CFDRC will continue the development of low-temperature technology by designing and building a prototype reactor for low-temperature VACNT manufacturing.

CDF Research Corporation

Top plane: Scanning electron microscope images of Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes synthesized at a) high (common) growth temperature and at b) low growth temperature of 220°C for a proprietary gaseous feedstock.
Bottom plane: Experimental efforts are complemented with multi-scale modeling

According to NanoMarkets LLC, VACNTs will play a central role in future electronics and are projected to create $3.6 billion in new business for the electronics and semiconductor sectors by 2009. Today, the high production costs of VACNTs are often cited as the main barrier to their further widespread use. This cost is due to limited production, unproven processes, and several technical stumbling blocks. The Phase II project will result in a novel research-grade reactor and a multiscale simulator for a direct, low-temperature synthesis of VACNTs at selected locations on the surfaces of temperature-sensitive materials.

A short list of applications that will benefit from the new technology includes field emission and liquid crystal displays, field emission sources for high-power defense electronics (photon and X-ray devices), bio and chemical sensors, composite materials, and interconnects in computer chips.

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