UK researchers gain funding for PECVD nanotube growth

June 5, 2006 – The Advanced Technology Institute at the U. of Surrey, UK, and plasma processing company CEVP Ltd., have received funding of GBP 215,000 (about US $404,000) to support efforts to commercialize a method for mass-producing nanoscale materials, such as nanotubes.

The partners are working on a prototype tool called “NanoGrowth,” which uses a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) and vacuum process to manufacture nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes without requiring the high-temperature (~700°C) environments as other methods such as CVD. The method also incorporates special control sequences to make carbon nanotubes “flower,” for large surface area applications. The tool also is being explored for growing related nanomaterials such as doped silicon nanowires and tungsten oxide nanowires on suitable substrates.

The funding will support the next step in the partnership of growing carbon nanotubes on 3-in. wafers, with potential scaling up to 300mm substrates.

Ravi Silva, U. of Surrey professor and lead scientist at the Advanced Technology Institute, stated that the team is already in talks with industry about pursuing end-use applications for several products, and is examining possibilities to create a spin-out company to develop and market the technology.

“Developers are well aware of what the incredible mechanical and electrical properties of carbon nanotubes and related materials can bring to precision applications such as ICs and flat panel displays, but their aspirations have been frustrated by the limitations of current high-temperature growth techniques”, stated Ben Jensen of CEVP. ” We’ve already demonstrated that precision carbon nanotube fabrication is feasible at low temperatures and on a large scale — this SEEDA funding will help us bring the process to the commercial world.”


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