Research Highlight

Carbon nanotubes for making flat-panel displays  

doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.34 Published online 20 March 2018

Physicists have devised a low-cost method to produce an array of vertically aligned pillar-shaped carbon nanotubes on a silicon wafer1. Such arrays of nanotubes, highly sensitive to low-intensity electric field, can be used to fabricate thin-film display devices.

Carbon nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes are coveted materials for making next-generation electronic devices. Existing methods for synthesising such nanomaterials are complex and expensive.

Aiming to invent a cheap process for making carbon nanotubes, an international research team comprising scientists from the CSIR-National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi, India, led by Bipin Kumar Gupta, synthesised a vertical array of pillar-shaped carbon nanotubes on a silicon wafer using a low-cost catalyst and a water-assisted method.

Sophisticated imaging techniques revealed the formation of uniformly distributed high-density carbon nanotubes with distinct inner and outer walls. The nanotubes were able to absorb energy and emit electrons even in the presence of low-intensity electric field. The nanotubes owe such emission properties to their tens of thousands of atomically sharp tips.

Damage to one or two walls of the nanotubes did not disrupt their emission efficiency, which remained steady even after being exposed to ion bombardment and field-induced stress.

The pillar-shaped nanotubes have great potential as electron emitters that could be used to create next-generation nanoelectronics and smart display devices, says Gupta.


1. Gupta, B. K. et al. High-performance field emission device utilizing vertically aligned carbon nanotubes-based pillar architectures.  AIP. Advances. 8, 015117 (2018)