Growth of carbon nanotube forests between a bi-metallic catalyst layer and a SiO2 substrate to form a self-assembled carbon-metal heterostructure
A special nanostructure was formed by the growth of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) between a substrate and a thin bi-metallic catalyst layer using a thermal chemical vapor deposition process. The catalyst layer is composed of adjacently disposed Cr and Ni phases formed prior to CNT growth. The Cr/Ni layer serves as a bi-metallic catalyst layer, which is pushed away from the substrate as a thin and continuous nanomembrane with the growth of CNTs. The self-assembled CNT-catalyst heterostructure possesses a smooth surface (RMS = 2.9 nm) with a metallic shine. Directly interlinked to the Cr/Ni layer, dense and vertically aligned multi-walled CNTs are found. Compared to conventional CNT films, the structure has significant advantages for CNT integration. From technology point of view, the structure allows further processing without impact on the CNTs as well as transfer of pristine vertically aligned CNTs to arbitrary substrates. Moreover, the as-grown CNT films provide an interface ideal for further electrical, thermal and mechanical contacting of CNT films. We present structural investigations of this special CNT-metal heterostructure. Furthermore, we discuss possible interface mechanisms during catalyst layer formation and CNT growth.