Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. announced the successful formation of a new nano-scale carbon composite featuring a self-organizing structure, by combining carbon nanotubes and graphene which are both nano-scale carbon structures. The newly-discovered composite structure is synthesized at a temperature of 510 C, cooler than for conventional graphene formed at temperatures too high for electronic device applications, thereby paving the way for the feasible use of graphene as a material suitable for future practical use in electronic devices which are vulnerable to heat. Carbon nanotubes have properties including high thermal conductivity and high current-density tolerance, while graphene is known for its high electron mobility. Carbon nanostructures combining these two materials hold the promise of creating new potential for material research and applications.
In order to better understand the growth mechanism of carbon nanotubes, Fujitsu Laboratories conducted experiments using chemical vapor deposition, a technique in which a feedstock gas is heat-cracked in a vacuum chamber to synthesize film or structures on a substrate. This resulted in the formation and discovery of aligned growth multi-walled carbon nanotubes featuring layers of graphene (from a few layers to a few dozen) on top formed in a self-organizing way, thereby forming a complex composite.
Carbon-based materials come in a variety of different forms that depend on how their atoms link together, such as zero-dimensional fullerenes, one-dimensional nanotubes, two-dimensional (2-D) graphene, and three-dimensional (3-D) diamonds. Complex structures consisting of zero-dimensional and one-dimensional elements, known as “peapod” structures, have already been created. The new complex composite developed by Fujitsu Laboratories is the world’s first composite featuring one-dimensional and two-dimensional elements based on graphene layers and nanotubes, which are perpendicularly connected. The composite was synthesized at the relatively low temperature of 510 C.
Due to the fact that carbon nanotubes are linear, one-dimensional structures, in the two-dimensional directions perpendicular to the tube axis they have nearly no thermal or electrical conductivity between tubes. Graphene, on the other hand, possesses electrical and thermal conductivity across two dimensions. The newly-discovered carbon nanostructure is expected to have electrical conduction and thermal dissipation in all directions. Conventionally aligned-growth carbon nanotubes have had relatively poor uniformity in length, thus being inconsistent when joined in the upper areas and resulting in increased thermal and electrical resistance. As the new carbon nanostructures from Fujitsu Labs feature carbon nanotubes that nearly all connect to the graphene with good uniformity at their endpoints, and since the graphene surface is planar, it is anticipated that the new carbon nanostructures will enable excellent electrical and thermal conductivity. This technology brings the application of graphene for electronic devices one step closer to practical use.
Fujitsu Laboratories will continue to explore the mechanisms by which complex carbon nanostructures form and elucidate their physical characteristics, in order to develop electronic device application technologies that take advantage of those characteristics. In addition, in the field of material sciences Fujitsu Laboratories will pursue the development of technologies to enable the formation of high-quality carbon nanostructures at a lower temperature.
More info: Fujitsu Laboratories