Synthesis of individual single-walled carbon nanotubes on patterned silicon wafers

Article metrics


Recent progress1,2,3 in the synthesis of high-quality single-walled carbon nanotubes4 (SWNTs) has enabled the measurement of their physical and materials properties5,6,7,8. The idea that nanotubes might be integrated with conventional microstructures to obtain new types of nanoscale devices, however, requires an ability to synthesize, isolate, manipulate and connect individual nanotubes. Here we describe a strategy for making high-quality individual SWNTs on silicon wafers patterned with micrometre-scale islands of catalytic material. We synthesize SWNTs by chemical vapour deposition of methane on the patterned substrates. Many of the synthesized nanotubes are perfect, individual SWNTs with diameters of 1–3 nm and lengths of up to tens of micrometres. The nanotubes are rooted in the islands, and are easily located, characterized and manipulated with the scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope. Some of the SWNTs bridge two metallic islands, offering the prospect of using this approach to develop ultrafine electrical interconnects and other devices.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Schematic of process flow.
Figure 2: Nanotubes grown on a catalyst-patterned substrate.
Figure 3: Topography images of individual SWNTs recorded by tapping mode AFM.
Figure 4: A transmission electron microscope (TEM) image (scale bar: 50 nm) of an individual SWNT synthesized on supported catalysts by the methane CVD approach.


  1. 1

    Thess, A. et al. Crystalline ropes of metallic carbon nanotubes. Science 273, 483–487 (1996).

  2. 2

    Journet, C. et al. Large-scale production of single-walled carbon nanotubes by the electric-arc technique. Nature 388, 756–758 (1997).

  3. 3

    Bethune, D. S. et al. Cobalt-catalysed growth of carbon nanotubes with single-atomic-layer walls. Nature 363, 605–607 (1993).

  4. 4

    Iijima, S. & Ichihashi, T. Single-shell carbon nanotubes of 1-nm diameter. Nature 363, 603–605 (1993).

  5. 5

    Tans, S. J. et al. Individual single-wall carbon nanotubes as quantum wires. Nature 386, 474–477 (1997).

  6. 6

    Bockrath, M. et al. Single-electron transport in ropes of carbon nanotubes. Science 275, 1922–1925 (1997).

  7. 7

    Odom, T., Huang, J., Kim, P. & Lieber, C. M. Atomic structure and electronic properties of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Nature 391, 62–64 (1998).

  8. 8

    Wildoer, J. W. G., Venema, L. C., Rinzler, A. G., Smalley, R. E. & Dekker, C. Electronic structure of atomically resolved carbon nanotubes. Nature 391, 59–62 (1997).

  9. 9

    Kiang, C.-H., Goddard, W. A., Beyers, R., Salem, J. R. & Bethune, D. S. Catalytic synthesis of single-layer carbon nanotubes with a wide range of diameters. J. Phys. Chem. 98, 6612–6618 (1994).

  10. 10

    Lin, X., Wang, X. K., Dravid, V. P., Chang, R. P. H. & Ketterson, J. B. Large scale synthesis of single-shell carbon nanotubes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 64, 181–183 (1994).

  11. 11

    Iijima, S. Carbon nanotubes. MRS Bull. 19, 43–49 (1994).

  12. 12

    Wong, E. W., Sheehan, P. E. & Lieber, C. M. Nanobeam mechanics—elasticity, strength, and toughness of nanorods and nanotubes. Science 277, 1971–1975 (1997).

  13. 13

    Tibbetts, G. G. in Carbon Fibers, Filaments and Composites 73–94 (Kluwer Academic, Amsterdam, 1990).

  14. 14

    Tibbetts, G. G. Carbon fibers produced by pyrolysis of natural gas in stainless steel tubes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 42, 666–668 (1983).

  15. 15

    Jaeger, H. & Behrsing, T. The dual nature of vapour-grown carbon fibres. Composites Sci. Technol. 51, 231–242 (1994).

  16. 16

    Qin, L. C. & Iijima, S. Fibrilliform growth of carbon nanotubes. Mater. Lett. 30, 311–314 (1997).

  17. 17

    Kong, J., Cassell, A. & Dai, H. Chemical vapor deposition of methane for single-walled carbon nanotubes. Chem. Phys. Lett. 292, 567–574 (1998).

  18. 18

    Amelinckx, S. et al. Aformation mechanism for catalytically grown helix-shaped graphite nanotubes. Science 265, 635–639 (1994).

  19. 19

    Baker, R. T. K. Catalytic growth of carbon filaments. Carbon 27, 315–323 (1989).

  20. 20

    Tibbetts, G. G., Devour, M. G. & Rodda, E. J. An adsorption-diffusion isotherm and its application to the growth of carbon filaments on iron catalyst particles. Carbon 25, 367–375 (1987).

  21. 21

    Tibbetts, G. G. Why are carbon filaments tubular? J. Cryst. Growth 66, 632–638 (1984).

Download references


We thank J. Brauman, J. Han, C. Marcus, T. Kenny, A. Kapiltulnik and A. Morpurgo for helpful discussions, and J. Kim for his assistance with SEM. This work is partly supported by a Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award (H.D.); the NSF and the Office of Naval Research (JSEP) (C.F.Q.); and NASA Ames Research Center (A.M.C.).

Author information

Correspondence to Hongjie Dai.

Supplementary Information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kong, J., Soh, H., Cassell, A. et al. Synthesis of individual single-walled carbon nanotubes on patterned silicon wafers. Nature 395, 878–881 (1998) doi:10.1038/27632

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.