Wafer-scale monodomain films of spontaneously aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes


The one-dimensional character of electrons, phonons and excitons in individual single-walled carbon nanotubes leads to extremely anisotropic electronic, thermal and optical properties. However, despite significant efforts to develop ways to produce large-scale architectures of aligned nanotubes, macroscopic manifestations of such properties remain limited. Here, we show that large (>cm2) monodomain films of aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes can be prepared using slow vacuum filtration. The produced films are globally aligned within ±1.5° (a nematic order parameter of 1) and are highly packed, containing 1 × 106 nanotubes in a cross-sectional area of 1 μm2. The method works for nanotubes synthesized by various methods, and film thickness is controllable from a few nanometres to 100 nm. We use the approach to create ideal polarizers in the terahertz frequency range and, by combining the method with recently developed sorting techniques, highly aligned and chirality-enriched nanotube thin-film devices. Semiconductor-enriched devices exhibit polarized light emission and polarization-dependent photocurrent, as well as anisotropic conductivities and transistor action with high on/off ratios.

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Figure 1: Fabrication and characterization of wafer-scale monodomain films of aligned CNTs.
Figure 2: Characterization of aligned CNT films through polarization-dependent optical spectroscopy.
Figure 3: Optoelectronic devices made from aligned and (6,5)-enriched CNT films.
Figure 4: Electronic devices made from aligned CNT films.


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This work was supported by the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) programme of the US Department of Energy through grant no. DE-FG02-06ER46308 (for the preparation and characterization of aligned carbon nanotube films) and the Robert A. Welch Foundation through grant no. C-1509 (for terahertz and infrared characterization). S.K.D. and E.H.H. acknowledge support from the LANL LDRD programme. Portions of this work were performed at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a US Department of Energy, Office of Science user facility. The authors thank H. Kasai, A. Zubair, C. Sewell, S. Peters and T. Higashira for their assistance with terahertz characterization measurements and I. Kurganskaya, A. Lüttge, R. Headrick and M. Pasquali for discussions.

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X.H. and W.G. developed the process of making aligned CNT films, performed most of the characterization experiments, and analysed the data obtained, under the supervision and guidance of W.W.A., R.H.H. and J.K. L.X. prepared chirality-enriched SWCNT suspensions, in collaboration with E.H.H. and S.K.D. B.L. made the AFM measurements and B.L. and W.W. performed TEM imaging, under the advisement of R.V. and P.M.A. Q.Z. and J.M.R. participated in the terahertz and infrared spectroscopy measurements. S.L. helped characterize the FET devices. X.H., W.G. and J.K. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Junichiro Kono.

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He, X., Gao, W., Xie, L. et al. Wafer-scale monodomain films of spontaneously aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes. Nature Nanotech 11, 633–638 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2016.44

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