Assembling 3D arrays of nanotubes to integrate nanotechnology and microtechnology

A practical nanotech method for integrating single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT) with existing silicon microtechnology could lead to uses in microelectronics, field emission displays, electronic memory devices and solar cells. From “3D nanotube assembly technique for nanoscale electronics” at, written by Lisa Zyga:

For the past several years, researchers have been trying to take advantage of carbon nanotubes’ good electrical properties for future nanoscale electronics applications. One of the biggest challenges in this area is finding ways to arrange and assemble the nanotubes into 3D configurations for carrying current in nanoscale devices.

Most recently, a team of physicists and engineers from the Electronic Materials Research Institute at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, has demonstrated a technique for assembling nanotubes using an applied electric field. Using this method, the researchers could assemble single-walled carbon nanotubes into 3D structures by coaxing the nanotubes into deep nanoholes in a porous alumina template. An average of one nanotube per hole was vertically assembled, and, by sweeping the 0.32cm2 area, more than one million holes were filled with nanotubes.

“The greatest significance of this technique is that it provides the potential to manufacture, at a high rate and on a large scale, three-dimensional single-wall carbon nanotube electrical interconnects, without the need for high-temperature synthesis,” Srinivas Sridhar, Director of the Electronic Materials Research Institute, told

…”The next step in nanoscale electronics is to integrate the 3D carbon nanotubes architectures with current CMOS technology and create hybrid systems,” Sridhar said. “The holy grail of nanoscale electronics is to completely replace CMOS technology by monolithic carbon nanotubes devices.

For those who would like an overview of the application of networks and arrays of SWNT to electronic devices, the fourth issue of the journal Nano Research, which is open access through 2008 and 2009, contains an excellent and accessible review article “Random networks and aligned arrays of single-walled carbon nanotubes for electronic device applications” that can be downloaded as a PDF (2.5 MB).

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