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High-Speed, Direct Printing of Carbon Nanotubes

One of the greatest challenges in the development of nanoscale sensor systems and other nanomaterials-based devices is our inability to precisely, accurately, and repeatably place the desired nanomaterials and nanostructures where we want them, at a high rate and a low cost. For example, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long been seen as potentially transformative material due to their outstanding electrical (current density >109 A/cm2) and mechanical (elastic modulus > 1 TPa) properties. However, very few carbon nanotube-based devices exist due to our inability to manufacture CNTs at a large scale with the desired properties on any type of substrate. One potentially promising method for overcoming these is the direct printing of carbon nanotubes onto substrates. To achieve this type of direct printing, a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) furnace with integrated positioning and sensing to controllably grow and place CNTs onto a substrate is needed. This tip-based fabrication method would allow different types of nanotubes (single walled, multi-walled, functionalized, etc.) to be directly and precisely placed on prefabricated structures at a low cost and high speed.