Synthesis of subnanometer-diameter vertically aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes with copper-anchored cobalt catalysts†
We synthesize vertically aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes (VA-SWNTs) with subnanometer diameters on quartz (and SiO2/Si) substrates by alcohol CVD using Cu-anchored Co catalysts. The uniform VA-SWNTs with a nanotube diameter of 1 nm are synthesized at a CVD temperature of 800 °C and have a thickness of several tens of μm. The diameter of SWNTs was reduced to 0.75 nm at 650 °C with the G/D ratio maintained above 24. Scanning transmission electron microscopy energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS-STEM) and high angle annular dark field (HAADF-STEM) imaging of the Co/Cu bimetallic catalyst system showed that Co catalysts were captured and anchored by adjacent Cu nanoparticles, and thus were prevented from coalescing into a larger size, which contributed to the small diameter of SWNTs. The correlation between the catalyst size and the SWNT diameter was experimentally clarified. The subnanometer-diameter and high-quality SWNTs are expected to pave the way to replace silicon for next-generation optoelectronic and photovoltaic devices.