January 15, 2007 – Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute say they’ve developed new hybrid structures that combine the best properties of carbon nanotubes and metal nanowires, to overcome some of the key hurdles for using carbon nanotubes as a building block for future chips.
The nanowires are made from an alumina template, with copper or gold wires deposited inside nanometer-range pores. The entire assembly is placed in a furnace along with carbon-rich compound. When heated to high temperatures, the carbon atoms arrange themselves along the channel wall of the template, and the carbon nanotubes grow directly on top of the copper wires, the scientists say.
The new technique allows precise attachment of carbon nanotubes to individual metal pins, and enables manipulation and control of the junctions between nanotubes and nanowires over several hundred microns of length, according to Fung Suong Ou, the paper’s corresponding author and a graduate student in materials science and electrical engineering at Rensselaer, adding that the “really easy technique” is applicable to other materials. “The alumina templates are already mass-produced for use in the filter industry, and the technique can be easily scaled up for industrial use,” he noted.
So far the researchers have made hybrid nanowires combining carbon nanotubes with both copper and gold. They are also currently working to combine the nanotubes with an unidentified semiconductor material to create a diode.
The research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Focus Center New York for Electronic Interconnects.