Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Future Electronics Based on Carbon Nanotubes

08.04.2015

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.


J.Rogers/UIUC

Thermal gradients associated with mild heating of a metallic carbon nanotube induces thermocapillary flows in a thin organic overcoat. The result is an open trench with the tube at the base.

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

Contact Information
Jason Socrates Bardi
+1 240-535-4954
jbardi@aip.org
@jasonbardi

Jason Socrates Bardi | newswise

Further reports about: AIP Applied Physics Nanotubes carbon nanotubes circuit expensive metallic purification semiconducting tiny tubes

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>