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David P. Burt, W. Murray Whyte, John M. R. Weaver, Andrew Glidle, Jonathan P. Edgeworth, Julie V. Macpherson, Phillip S. Dobson

Effects of Metal Underlayer Grain Size on Carbon Nanotube Growth

Journal of Physical Chemistry C 113 (2009) 15133-15139

In this paper we demonstrate that the nucleation density of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), formed by thermal catalytic chemical vapor deposition, strongly depends on the grain size of Al underlayers covered with a native oxide (Al/Al(2)O(3)). By varying the Substrate temperature during Al sputter deposition it was possible to investigate the effect of Al grain size on growth without inducing changes in the underlayer thickness, surface chemistry, or any other growth parameter. The resulting SWNT growth structures ranged from low-density 2D nanotube networks that lay across the surface of the substrate to high density 3D nucleation which gave rise to vertical “forest” growth. The height of the SWNT “forest” was observed to increase with increasing Al deposition temperature as follows, 200 > 100 > 60 > 20 degrees C on Si/Al but in the order 100 > 200 > 60 > 20 degrees C on SiO(2)/Al substrates for fixed growth conditions. The differences in the SWNT growth trends on Si and SiO(2) substrates are believed to be due to the existence of an optimal Al/Al(2)O(3) underlayer grain size for the formation of active catalytic nanoparticles, with larger Al/Al(2)O(3) grains forming on SiO(2) than Si at a fixed substrate temperature. Numerous surface analysis techniques including AFM, XPS, FESEM, TEM, and Raman spectroscopy have been employed to ascertain that the observed changes in nanotube growth for this system are related primarily to changes in underlayer morphology.

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