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Duke scientists grow the longest, straightest carbon nanotube carpet yet.

One can barely hit a science or tech oriented website without seeing the words “carbon nanotube” somewhere on the first page. Indeed, with the ever-increasing promise of incredible technology being spawned from the simple carbon molecules, the praise they receive is well-deserved. However, where it concerns electronics, especially in the form of integrated circuits, CNTs are still mostly just a theory. While they have been shown to have superior electrical properties to copper and silicon, growing them in a manner useful to the microelectronics industry has proved difficult.

As far back as 2000, scientists have been growing the curious CNT using a variety of methods. Earlier this year, DailyTech reported on a new method for growing fields of CNTs which held promise. Now, a team at Duke University under the guidance of professor Jie Liu, has improved upon other past methods, utilizing quartz crystal to grow the longest and straightest CNT forest to date.

To be useful as electron carriers for microchips and other micro-electronic devices, CNTs would have to be both long enough to carry the signal, and straight enough to move it to where it wants to go. Previous methods for growing CNT bundles have been less than desirable because the tubes themselves tend to overlap and criss-cross as their length grows. Keeping them uniform is the key to success.

The Duke process uses stable temperature cut quartz crystal wafers, which are used in several mundane electronics applications. Using gasified alcohol to supply the carbon atoms and a lithography process that makes tracks of copper, which is used as the growth catalyst, the CNTs follow the crystalline orientation of the wafer, growing perfectly straight tubes along the crystal.

Though other groups have been able to create groups of tubes much more dense using similar processes with quartz and sapphire, even as dense as 50 tubes per micron (one millionth of a meter), such high density bundles are less than ideal for electronics as they are not able to maintain a uniform growth pattern. The Duke process is thought to produce the highest density of aligned single-wall nanotubes to date.

Though it may be a slow one, the move from silicon-based to carbon-based electronics almost seems inevitable as more and more research goes into and discoveries come out of carbon and its many available pure and designer forms and compounds. While silicon probably won't vanish any time soon and still holds potential as miniaturization processes continue to be refined, there is evidence that its near five decade reign over the electronics industry may be coming to an end.

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RE: Is it just me or ...
By LeviBeckerson on 4/24/2008 3:21:51 PM , Rating: 3
Unfortunately, the length of their product was not specified in the source information. :(

RE: Is it just me or ...
By ImSpartacus on 4/24/2008 3:23:14 PM , Rating: 3
What is the source information? If it doesn't explain something so vital should DT really write a story about it?

RE: Is it just me or ...
By LeviBeckerson on 4/24/2008 3:30:50 PM , Rating: 4
Somehow, I imagined the fact that they managed to grow bundles with precision that would likely be useful was something of an important find. If you like, you can subscribe to the Journal of the American Chemistry Association and retrieve the published paper on their work. I imagine the actual length, though irrelevant to my point, would be in there somewhere. :)

Search Duke's website for the original source.

RE: Is it just me or ...
By ImSpartacus on 4/24/2008 4:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
I don't care enough about the subject to pursue it, but it's the principle of not giving a source that bothers me. I'm sure DT doesn't make this stuff up, but it is a little weird that something like this is announced as the largest, but no definite measurements are given.

If it is a published work, I am sure specific measurements are given.

I still think DT should try to reference its stories better. Some people would like to read more in depth about such subjects that are boiled down for mass consumption.

RE: Is it just me or ...
By MatthiasF on 4/24/2008 4:40:47 PM , Rating: 2
Having no source is probably why this is under the Blog section and not an article.

I don't see anything on Duke's site by the way.

RE: Is it just me or ...
By ImSpartacus on 4/24/2008 6:42:32 PM , Rating: 2
This is bullshit, it was not a blog. It was just an article. I swear. I was just trying to find it and I couldn't until I checked blogs. It was right above the Chinese internet user article.

RE: Is it just me or ...
By webdawg77 on 4/24/2008 3:36:53 PM , Rating: 2
Duke researchers just like to keep all of the information to themselves. How dare them :)!

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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