Controlled growth of carbon nanotubes for electronic and photovoltaic applications

Capasso, Andrea (2011) Controlled growth of carbon nanotubes for electronic and photovoltaic applications. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), experimentally observed for the first time twenty years ago, have triggered an unprecedented research effort, on the account of their astonishing structural, mechanical and electronic properties. Unfortunately, the current inability in predicting the CNTs’ properties and the difficulty in controlling their position on a substrate are often limiting factors for the application of this material in actual devices. This research aims at the creation of specific methodologies for controlled synthesis of CNTs, leading to effectively employ them in various fields of electronics, e.g. photovoltaics. Focused Ion Beam (FIB) patterning of Si surfaces is here proposed as a means for ordering the assembly of vertical-aligned CNTs. With this technique, substrates with specific nano-structured morphologies have been prepared, enabling a high degree of control over CNTs’ position and size. On these nano-structured substrates, the growth of CNTs has been realized by chemical vapor deposition (CVD), i.e. thermal decomposition of hydrocarbon gases over a heated catalyst. The most common materials used as catalysts in CVD are transition metals like Fe and Ni; however, their presence in the CNT products often results in shortcomings for electronic applications, especially for those based on silicon, being the metallic impurities incompatible with very-large-scale integration (VLSI) technology. In the present work the role of Ge dots as an alternative catalysts for CNTs synthesis on Si substrates has been thoroughly assessed, finding a close connection between the catalytic activity of such material and the CVD conditions, which can affect both size and morphology of the dots. Successful CNT growths from Ge dots have been obtained by CVD at temperatures ranging from 750 to 1000°C, with mixtures of acetylene and hydrogen in an argon carrier gas. The morphology of the Si surface is observed to play a crucial role for the outcome of the CNT synthesis: natural (i.e. chemical etching) and artificial (i.e. FIB patterning, nanoindentation) means of altering this morphology in a controlled way have been then explored to optimize the CNTs yield. All the knowledge acquired in this study has been finally applied to synthesize CNTs on transparent conductive electrodes (indium-tin oxide, ITO, coated glasses), for the creation of a new class of anodes for organic photovoltaics. An accurate procedure has been established which guarantees a controlled inclusion of CNTs on ITO films, preserving their optical and electrical properties. By using this set of conditions, a CNTenhanced electrode has been built, contributing to improve the power conversion efficiency of polymeric solar cells.

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ID Code: 49778
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Motta, Nunzio, Bell, John, & Waclawik, Eric
Keywords: carbon nanotubes, controlled growth, electronic applications, photovoltaic applications
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 Apr 2012 05:58
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2012 05:58

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