The patterning mechanism of carbon nanotubes using surface acoustic waves: the acoustic radiation effect or the dielectrophoretic effect†
In this study, we present a simple technique capable of assembling and patterning suspended CNTs using a standing surface acoustic wave (SSAW) field. Individual CNTs could be assembled into larger CNT bundles and patterned in periodic positions on a substrate surface. The mechanism of the SSAW-based patterning technique has been investigated using both numerical simulation and experimental study. It has been found that the acoustic radiation effect due to the acoustic pressure field and the dielectrophoretic (DEP) effect induced by the electric field co-existing in the patterning process however play different roles depending on the properties of the suspended particles and the suspension medium. In the SSAW-based patterning of highly conductive CNTs with high aspect ratio geometry, the positive DEP effect dominates over the acoustic radiation effect. In contrast, the acoustic radiation effect dominates over the DEP effect when manipulating less conductive, spherical or low aspect ratio particles or biological cells. These results provide a meaningful insight into the mechanism of SSAW-based patterning, which is of great help to guide the effective use of this patterning technique for various applications.