Roberto Guzman de Villoria, A. John Hart, and Brian L. Wardle. ACS Nano (in press), 2011. [http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1021/nn2008645]
Vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (VACNTs) have certain advantages over bulk CNT (carbon nanotubes) powders and randomly-oriented CNT mats for applications in flexible electronic devices, filtration membranes, biosensors and multifunctional aerospace materials. Here, a machine and process to synthesize VACNTs in a continuous manner is presented showing uniform growth achieved using 2D and 3D substrates, including bundles of alumina fibers, silicon wafer pieces, and stainless steel sheets. Aligned multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNT) are synthesized at substrate feed rates of up to 6.8 cm/min, and the CNTs reach up to 40 um in length depending on residence time in the reactor. In addition to the aligned morphology indicative of high yield growth, TEM and Raman spectroscopy reveal that the CNTs are of comparable quality to CNTs grown by an equivalent batch process. A significant reduction in time, reaction products, gases, and energy is demonstrated relative to batch processing, paving the way for industrial production of VACNTs.
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