Carbon Nanotubes Grow Up In 3D
Next-generation computer chips, integrated circuits, and the micro electro-mechanical (MEMS) devices that power them depend upon carbon nanotubes that can be grown up, down, sideways, and in all three dimensions. Researchers at Rensselaer are the first to achieve this unprecedented, specific, and controlled nanotube growth.
Their research, reported in the April 4 issue of the journal Nature, paves the way for Lilliputian devices that depend on tiny networks and architectures.
Pulickel Ajayan, associate professor, and Ganapathiraman Ramanath, assistant professor, both of materials science, have combined formerly disparate areas of research to grow and direct the assembly of nanotubes.
The method is based on a selective growth process that allows the nanotubes to grow perpendicular to the silica-coated substrate. By chiseling the silica into predetermined shapes, Ajayan and Ramanath are able to precisely control and direct the nanotube growth. Their use of gas phase delivery of a metal catalyst, essential for nanotube growth, makes their growth process more flexible and more easily scalable than conventional methods.
This simple process for controlled nanotube growth could be brought to market in a matter of months, the researchers believe.
"It's a simple and elegant process that provides unprecedented control over nanotube growth," said Ajayan.
"The impact of our work is well beyond nanotubes," said Ramanath. "This is the first step toward making complex networks comprised of molecular units. By manipulating the topography of the silica blocks, and utilizing the selective and directional growth process, we have been able to force nanotubes to grow in predetermined, multiple directions, with a very fine degree of control. No one else has done this."
The work is funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Interconnect Focus Center.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Nanotube 'Peapods' Have Tunable Electronic Properties
Urbana-Champaign - Jan 28, 2002
First came fullerenes, those cage-like molecules of 60 carbon atoms bound in a ball. Then came long, thin soda straws of carbon atoms called nanotubes. Now there are fullerenes nested within nanotubes, like so many peas in a pod.