Carbon nanotube templated microfabrication (CNT-M) is a term describing a grouping of processes where carbon nanotubes (CNTs) serve a structural role in the fabrication of a material or device. In its basic form, CNT-M is comprised of two steps: produce a template made from carbon nanotubes and infiltrate the porous template with an additional material. Vertically aligned carbon nanotube (VACNT) templates can be grown to heights ranging from microns to millimeters and lithographically patterned to a desired form. Deposition of an existing thin film material onto a CNT template will coat all template surfaces and can produce a near solid material with dimensions on the millimeter scale with resulting material properties coming primarily from the thin film. Progress within CNT-M falls broadly within one of two categories: control of the CNT template's properties and form, or control of infiltration and new materials.Three-dimensional CNT templates were developed to allow patterned multilayer VACNT structures. In one embodiment, VACNTs were grown below an existing, patterned and capillary-formed VACNT structure by reusing the original catalyst in combination with newly deposited catalyst to create a CNT-based microneedle array on a VACNT support. In another embodiment, VACNTs were mechanically coupled from the initial stages of growth to create a smooth, low porosity surface on which a secondary, patterned CNT forest was grown using standard film deposition and lithographic techniques.A microfabrication compatible thermal barrier was produced using CNTs as a sacrificial template for silicon oxide. The resulting thermal barrier exhibited a thermal conductivity that could be tuned across 2 orders of magnitude based on the degree to which the sacrificial template was removed. Carbon infiltrated carbon nanotubes (CI-CNTs) were produced that exhibited a Young's modulus ranging from 5GPa to 26GPa based on controlled process parameters. Porosity, centroid position, and the second moment of area was calculated from SEM images of CI-CNT structures using an automatic pore identification technique. The porosity results suprisingly show little to no porosity gradient across the width of the structure and a nearly linear increase in porosity from the top to bottom. This work advances the understanding of existing CNT-M processes and demonstrates novel techniques for producing future CNT templates.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





carbon nanotubes, CNT, CVD, MEMS, 3D MEMS, ICCNT, VACNT, Porosity, CI-CNT, Carbon Infiltration, CNT Template, CNT-M, Nanoinjection, Initially Coupled CNT, microfabrication