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CNT deposition using colloid catalyst

Highly purified cobalt colloids have been employed as a catalyst to grow aligned carbon nanofibres at temperatures as low as 300 °C in DC plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition systems over large areas.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and less crystalline carbon nanofibres (CNFs) are nanoscale building blocks for an increasing number of applications. For many applications, such as electron field emission, fuel cells and super capacitors, it is necessary to grow CNTs and CNFs directly onto an appropriate surface.

This implies depositing a catalyst onto a surface prior to the CNT growth.
Typically the catalyst (mostly Ni, Co or Fe) is deposited by either thermal evaporation or sputtering. An alternative is to deliver the catalyst from a colloidal solution, as this can be used to cover any surface, independent of size, shape or structure, easily and at low cost. This method is particularly useful for coating complex shapes such as foams, meshes or cloths.

Co nanoparticles are synthesised following the inverse micelle method. The nanoparticles can then be dispersed onto a flat or three dimensionally shaped surface and carbon nantoubes can be grown in a DC-plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) system.

We believe that the combination of colloidal catalysts and PECVD will allow the growth of CNTs and CNFs on more complex, sensitive substrates needed for more unusual applications such as electrochemistry and sensors. This result is the first use of colloidal catalysts and PECVD for the low temperature growth of CNFs.

Reported by

Engineering Depg, University of Cambridge
United Kingdom
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