Carbon Nanotubes Grow Up, Out, and In All Three Dimensions
Rensselaer Researchers Achieve Unprecedented Control
over Nanotube Growth
Troy, N.Y. — Next-generation computer chips, integrated
circuits, and the microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices that
power them depend upon carbon nanotubes that can be grown up,
down, sideways, and in all three dimensions. Researchers at
Rensselaer are the first to achieve this unprecedented,
specific, and controlled nanotube growth.
Their research, reported in the April 4 issue of the journal
Nature, paves the way for Lilliputian devices that depend on
tiny networks and architectures.
Pulickel Ajayan, associate professor, and Ganapathiraman
Ramanath, assistant professor, both of materials science, have
combined formerly disparate areas of research to grow and
direct the assembly of nanotubes.
The method is based on a selective growth process that allows
the nanotubes to grow perpendicular to the silica-coated
substrate. By chiseling the silica into predetermined shapes,
Ajayan and Ramanath are able to precisely control and direct
the nanotube growth. Their use of gas phase delivery of a metal
catalyst, essential for nanotube growth, makes their growth
process more flexible and more easily scalable than
This simple process for controlled nanotube growth could be
brought to market in a matter of months, the researchers
“It’s a simple and elegant process that provides unprecedented
control over nanotube growth,” said Ajayan.
“The impact of our work is well beyond nanotubes,” said
Ramanath. “This is the first step toward making complex
networks comprised of molecular units. By manipulating the
topography of the silica blocks, and utilizing the selective
and directional growth process, we have been able to force
nanotubes to grow in predetermined, multiple directions, with a
very fine degree of control. No one else has done this.”
The work is funded by the Office of Naval Research and the
Interconnect Focus Center.
Contact: Patricia Azriel
Phone: (518) 276-6531