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Large-area blown bubble films of aligned nanowires and carbon nanotubes


Many of the applications proposed for nanowires and carbon nanotubes require these components to be organized over large areas with controlled orientation and density. Although progress has been made with directed assembly and Langmuir–Blodgett approaches, it is unclear whether these techniques can be scaled to large wafers and non-rigid substrates. Here, we describe a general and scalable approach for large-area, uniformly aligned and controlled-density nanowire and nanotube films, which involves expanding a bubble from a homogeneous suspension of these materials. The blown-bubble films were transferred to single-crystal wafers of at least 200 mm in diameter, flexible plastics sheets of dimensions of at least 225 × 300 mm2 and highly curved surfaces, and were also suspended across open frames. In addition, electrical measurements show that large arrays of nanowire field-effect transistors can be efficiently fabricated on the wafer scale. Given the potential of blown film extrusion to produce continuous films with widths exceeding 1 m, we believe that our approach could allow the unique properties of nanowires and nanotubes to be exploited in applications requiring large areas and relatively modest device densities.

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Figure 1: Blown bubble film (BBF) process.
Figure 2: Control of aligned NW density in BBFs.
Figure 3: Versatility of BBFs.
Figure 4: Si NW FET arrays on plastic substrates.


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We thank M. Ghasemi-Nejhad and R.H. Knapp for helpful discussions. A.C. acknowledges start-up funding from Department of Mechanical Engineering and College of Engineering of University of Hawaii; C.M.L. acknowledges support of this work by Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Author information




G.Y. and A.C. performed the experiments. G.Y., A.C. and C.M.L. designed the experiments, discussed the interpretation of results and co-wrote the paper.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Anyuan Cao or Charles M. Lieber.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary methods and supplementary figures S1–S4 (PDF 1656 kb)

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Yu, G., Cao, A. & Lieber, C. Large-area blown bubble films of aligned nanowires and carbon nanotubes. Nature Nanotech 2, 372–377 (2007).

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