Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Wenzhi Li

First Advisor's Committee Title



Carbon nanotubes, electron field emission, nanosphere lithography, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition, plasma treatment, point emitters, tin oxide

Date of Defense



Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have become one of the most interesting allotropes of carbon due to their intriguing mechanical, electrical, thermal and optical properties. The synthesis and electron emission properties of CNT arrays have been investigated in this work. Vertically aligned CNTs of different densities were synthesized on copper substrate with catalyst dots patterned by nanosphere lithography. The CNTs synthesized with catalyst dots patterned by spheres of 500 nm diameter exhibited the best electron emission properties with the lowest turn-on/threshold electric fields and the highest field enhancement factor. Furthermore, CNTs were treated with NH3 plasma for various durations and the optimum enhancement was obtained for a plasma treatment of 1.0 min. CNT point emitters were also synthesized on a flat-tip or a sharp-tip to understand the effect of emitter geometry on the electron emission. The experimental results show that electron emission can be enhanced by decreasing the screening effect of the electric field by neighboring CNTs.

In another part of the dissertation, vertically aligned CNTs were synthesized on stainless steel (SS) substrates with and without chemical etching or catalyst deposition. The density and length of CNTs were determined by synthesis time. For a prolonged growth time, the catalyst activity terminated and the plasma started etching CNTs destructively. CNTs with uniform diameter and length were synthesized on SS substrates subjected to chemical etching for a period of 40 minutes before the growth. The direct contact of CNTs with stainless steel allowed for the better field emission performance of CNTs synthesized on pristine SS as compared to the CNTs synthesized on Ni/Cr coated SS.

Finally, fabrication of large arrays of free-standing vertically aligned CNT/SnO2 core-shell structures was explored by using a simple wet-chemical route. The structure of the SnO2 nanoparticles was studied by X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy. Transmission electron microscopy reveals that a uniform layer of SnO2 is conformally coated on every tapered CNT. The strong adhesion of CNTs with SS guaranteed the formation of the core-shell structures of CNTs with SnO2 or other metal oxides, which are expected to have applications in chemical sensors and lithium ion batteries.





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