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 Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure
13.12.2017 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

nachricht Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation
12.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gecko adhesion technology moves closer to industrial uses

13.12.2017 | Information Technology

Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Research reveals how diabetes in pregnancy affects baby's heart

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>