, Volume 93, Issue 4, pp 1005-1009
Date: 03 Jul 2008

Altering the catalytic activity of thin metal catalyst films for controlled growth of chemical vapor deposited vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays

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The growth rate and terminal length of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays (VANTAs) grown by chemical vapor deposition have been dramatically improved through pulsed KrF excimer laser pretreatments of multilayer metal catalyst films. Silicon wafers coated with Al, Mo, and Fe layers were laser processed in air with single laser shots of varying fluence through circular apertures, then heated to ∼750°C and exposed to acetylene and ferrocene containing gas mixtures typically used to grow vertically aligned nanotube arrays. In situ videography was used to record the growth kinetics of the nanotube arrays in both patterned and unpatterned regions to understand the changes in catalytic activity, growth rates, and termination of growth. The height of the patterned regions varied with fluence, with the most successful treatment resulting in 1.4 cm tall posts of nanotubes embedded in a 0.4 cm tall nanotube carpet. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy images from the nanotubes in the posts revealed fewer walls, smaller diameters, and a much narrower distribution of diameters compared to the nanotubes grown in the carpet. This information, along with data obtained from weighing the material from each region, suggests that pulsed laser processing can also significantly increase the areal density of VANTAs.