Ultralong single-wall carbon nanotubes

Article metrics


Since the discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991 by Iijima1, there has been great interest in creating long, continuous nanotubes for applications where their properties coupled with extended lengths will enable new technology developments2. For example, ultralong nanotubes can be spun into fibres that are more than an order of magnitude stronger than any current structural material, allowing revolutionary advances in lightweight, high-strength applications3. Long metallic nanotubes will enable new types of micro-electromechanical systems such as micro-electric motors, and can also act as a nanoconducting cable for wiring micro-electronic devices4. Here we report the synthesis of 4-cm-long individual single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) at a high growth rate of 11 μm s−1 by catalytic chemical vapour deposition. Our results suggest the possibility of growing SWNTs continuously without any apparent length limitation.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: A 4-cm-long carbon nanotube.
Figure 2: AFM.
Figure 3: The Raman image and spectrum of a long SWNT.
Figure 4: Morphology of SWNTs that ended on the Si Substrate surface away from edges.
Figure 5: Raman image and spectrum of the growth termination region of a long SWNT indicates nucleation of dense nanotubes.


  1. 1

    Iijima, S. Helical microtubules of graphitic carbon. Nature 354, 56–58 (1991).

  2. 2

    Baughman, R.H., Zakhidov, A.A. & de Heer, W.A. Carbon nanotubes—the route toward applications. Science 297, 787–792 (2002).

  3. 3

    Jiang, K.L., Li, Q.Q. & Fan, S.S. Spinning continuous carbon nanotube yarns. Nature 419, 801 (2002).

  4. 4

    Zhu, H.W. et al. Direct synthesis of long single-walled carbon nanotube strands. Science 296, 884–886 (2002).

  5. 5

    Huang, S., Maynor, B., Cai, X. & Liu J. Ultralong long, well-aligned single-walled carbon nanotube architectures on surfaces. Adv. Mater. 15, 1651–1655 (2003).

  6. 6

    Dresselhaus, M.S., Dresselhaus, G., Jorio, A., Souza Filho, A.G. & Saito, R. Raman spectroscopy on isolated single wall carbon nanotubes. Carbon 40, 2043–2061 (2002).

  7. 7

    Huang, S., Cai, X. & Liu J. Growth of millimeter-long and horizontally aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes on flat substrates. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 5636–5637 (2003).

  8. 8

    Huang, S., Woodson, M., Smalley, R.E. & Liu, J. Growth mechanism of oriented long single walled carbon Nanotubes using “fast-heating” chemical vapor deposition process. Nano Lett. 4, 1025–1028 (2004).

  9. 9

    Brandes, E.A. & Brook, G.B. (eds.) Smithell's Handbook 7th edn, Ch. 11, 271 (Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, UK, 1992).

  10. 10

    Suryanarayyana, C. (ed.) Non-equilibrium Processing of Materials 59 (Pergamon, Amsterdam, 1999).

  11. 11

    Liao, X.Z. et al. Effect of catalyst composition on carbon nanotubes growth. Appl. Phys. Lett. 82, 2694–2696 (2003).

  12. 12

    Dai, H. et al. Single-wall nanotubes produced by metal-catalyzed disproportionation of carbon monoxide. Chem. Phys. Lett. 260, 471–475 (1996).

  13. 13

    Maruyama, S., Kojima, R., Miyauchi, Y., Chiashi, S. & Kohno, M. Low-temperature synthesis of high purity single-walled carbon nanotubes from alcohol. Chem. Phys. Lett. 360, 229–234 (2002).

  14. 14

    Wei, J., Jiang, B., Wu, D. & Wei, B. Large-scale synthesis of long double-walled carbon nanotubes. J. Phys. Chem. B 108, 8844–8847 (2004).

  15. 15

    Li, Y.L., Kinloch, I.A. & Windle, A.H. Direct spinning of carbon nanotube fibers from chemical vapor deposition synthesis. Science 304, 276–278 (2004).

  16. 16

    Andrews, R. et al. Nanotube composite carbon fiber. Appl. Phys. Lett. 75, 1329–1331 (1991).

  17. 17

    Vigolo, B. et al. Macroscopic fibers and ribbons of oriented carbon nanotubes. Science 290, 1331–1334 (2000).

  18. 18

    Kumar, S. et al. Synthesis, structure, and properties of PBO/SWNT composites. Macromolecules 35, 9039–9043 (2002).

  19. 19

    Dalton, A.B. et al. Super-tough carbon-nanotube fibres. Nature 423, 703 (2003).

  20. 20

    Hu, H., Ni, Y., Montana, V., Haddon, R.C. & Parpura, V. Chemically functionalized carbon nanotubes as substrates for neuronal growth. Nano Lett. 4, 506–511 (2004).

Download references


This work was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program office of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Author information

Correspondence to Y. T. Zhu.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Further reading