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Direct growth of aligned carbon nanotube field emitter arrays

The direct growth of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes onto flexible plastic substrates using plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition is reported.
Only a few methods allow controlled growth directly on a substrate, which is important for many applications, especially as the individual manipulation of CNTs is difficult and expensive due to their size. Selective, aligned growth of CNTs on silicon and glass substrates has been demonstrated by plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD). However, despite the high level of control, PECVD growth typically involves processing temperatures over 500 °C, which significantly limits the choice of possible substrate materials and integration processes. The controllable growth of nanotubes on plastic substrates would open up many applications such as in fuel cells or field emission devices.

We showed that individual lines and dots of freestanding 20–50 nm diameter nanotubes could be grown onto chromium covered commercially available polyimide foil. The scalable deposition method allows large area coverage without degrading or bending the sensitive substrate material. Field emission measurements show a low turn-on field ~3.2 V/micronsand a low threshold field ~4.2 V/microns. The result establishes a method of flexible field emitter fabrication, which is well suited for display production and integration of nanotubes into plastic electronics.

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Reported by

Department of Engineering
United Kingdom
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