After two decades of extensive investigation into the unique properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), the focus is now shifting toward the utilization of CNTs in real applications. Of particular interest is the use of CNTs in microtechnologies. To this end, CNT integration methods have to be optimized to guarantee yield, low-cost, and high performances. Here we describe three general schemes which we developed over the past several years which facilitate the direct integration of CNTs into microfabricated devices in a seamless manner. Using the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method, and carefully designed pre-patterned substrates, tubes can be easily deposited at very high fidelity. Through these integration schemes, the CNT growth step becomes equivalent to many other deposition steps of other materials. Using the processes we developed, a substrate can be introduced into the CNT CVD system and CNTs will grow at the right location to match the specific application. We briefly demonstrate two applications for which these techniques may be applied.
TEM image of a CNT grown on a grid showing the strong surface effects on CNT growth.