A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds way to purify arrays of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), possibly providing a step toward post-silicon circuits and devices
The exceptional properties of tiny molecular cylinders known as carbon nanotubes have tantalized researchers for years because of the possibility they could serve as a successors to silicon in laying the logic for smaller, faster and cheaper electronic devices.
First of all they are tiny -- on the atomic scale and perhaps near the physical limit of how small you can shrink a single electronic switch. Like silicon, they can be semiconducting in nature, a fact that is essential for circuit boards, and they can undergo fast and highly controllable electrical switching.
But a big barrier to building useful electronics with carbon nanotubes has always been the fact that when they're arrayed into films, a certain portion of them will act more like metals than semiconductors -- an unforgiving flaw that fouls the film, shorts the circuit and throws a wrench into the gears of any potential electronic device.
In fact, according to University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign professor John Rogers, the purity needs to exceed 99.999 percent -- meaning even one bad tube in 100,000 is enough to kill an electronic device. "If you have lower purity than that," he said, "that class of materials will not work for semiconducting circuits."
Now Rogers and a team of researchers have shown how to strip out the metallic carbon nanotubes from arrays using a relatively simple, scalable procedure that does not require expensive equipment. Their work is described this week in the Journal of Applied Physics, from AIP Publishing.
The Road to Purification
Though it has been a persistent problem for the last 10-15 years, the challenge of making uniform, aligned arrays of carbon nanotubes packed with good densities on thin films has largely been solved by several different groups of scientists in recent years, Rogers said.
That just left the second problem, which was to find a way to purify the material to make sure that none of the tubes were metallic in character -- a thorny problem that had remained unsolved. There were some methods of purification that were easy to do but fell far short of the level of purification necessary to make useful electronic components. Very recent approaches offer the right level of purification but rely on expensive equipment, putting the process out of reach of most researchers.
As the team reports this week, they were able to deposit a thin coating of organic material directly on top of a sheet of arrayed nanotubes in contact with a sheet of metal. They then applied current across the sheet, which allowed the current to flow through the nanotubes that were metal conductors -- but not the bulk of the tubes, which were semiconducting.
The current heated up the metal nanotubes a tiny amount -- just enough to create a "thermal capillary flow" that opened up a trench in the organic topcoat above them. Unprotected, the metallic tubes could then be etched away using a standard benchtop instrument, and then the organic topcoat could be washed away. This left an electronic wafer coated with semiconducting nanotubes free of metallic contaminants, Rogers said. They tested it by building arrays of transistors, he said.
"You end up with a device that can switch on and off as expected, based on purely semiconducting character," Rogers said.
The article, “Direct current injection and thermocapillarity flow for purification of aligned arrays of single-walled carbon nanotubes,” is authored by Xu Xie, Muhammad A. Wahab, Yuhang Li, Ahmad E. Islam, Bojan Tomic, Jiyuan Huang, Branden Burns, Eric Seabron, Simon N. Dunham, Frank Du, Jonathan Lin, William L. Wilson, Jizhou Song, Yonggang Huang, Muhammad A. Alam and John A. Rogers. It appears in the Journal of Applied Physics on April 7, 2015 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4916537). After that date, it can be accessed at: http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/jap/117/13/10.1063/1.4916537
The researchers on this paper are affiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana; Beihang University in Beijing, China; Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China; and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
ABOUT THE JOURNAL
Journal of Applied Physics is an influential international journal publishing significant new experimental and theoretical results of applied physics research. See: http://jap.aip.org
Jason Socrates Bardi
Jason Socrates Bardi | newswise
Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale
23.04.2018 | Academy of Finland
On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve
23.04.2018 | Lobachevsky University
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
24.04.2018 | Information Technology
24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.04.2018 | Life Sciences