Synthesis of carbon nanotubes and characterization of nanotubes as atomic force microscopy tips

This thesis describes the synthesis of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and the evaluation of them as tips of atomic force microscope (AFM) probes. Both arc-discharge and CVD grown nanotubes were investigated as AFM tips. Two methods were used to produce nanotube tipped AFM probes: (i) nanotubes were directly grown on the apex of AFM probes by CVD and (ii) pre-grown nanotubes were mechanically attached onto the apex of AFM probes. The first part of the thesis describes experiments that sought to control the growth of carbon nanotubes by chemical vapor deposition. The effects of various parameters e.g. catalyst, the carbon source, the addition of hydrogen and the growth temperature, on carbon nanotube growth were investigated. Ethylene was found to lead to better quality nanotubes than the acetylene. Grown nanotubes' quality was found to improve upon flow of hydrogen during the synthesis. Nanotubes synthesized on 3 nm iron film at 840°C using ethylene and hydrogen led to utilizable carbon nanotube tipped AFM probes. The second part of the thesis focuses on the mechanical production of nanotube tipped AFM probes in high resolution electron microscopes using nanomanipulators. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was found to be more convenient than transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to carry out the nanomanipulation process. Both arc-discharge and CVD grown nanotubes were successfully attached onto the AFM probes using a custom made nanomanipulator. Nanotubes were glued onto the probes by focused electron beam (FEB) induced amorphous carbon deposits. FEB irradiation deposited amorphous carbon performed more reliable attachment on CVD nanotubes than the arc-discharge nanotubes. The last part of the thesis describes tapping mode AFM measurements done using nanotube tipped AFM probes. Different nanotube tipped probes were investigated as AFM tips for scanning colloidal gold particles with different diameters and gratings from Digital Instruments™ AFMs. High resolution AFM images were obtained by arc-discharge nanotube tips. CVD grown nanotubes were shown to be more resilient to tip crashes than the arc-discharge grown nanotubes. However, all the AFM images acquired from the scans by CVD nanotubes had the same kind of ringing artifact, in good agreement with a previously reported data about the artifacts of the CVD nanotube tipped AFM probes. Open ends of the CVD nanotubes, lack of crystallinity and the defects in their structure are suggested to be the reason for these artifacts.


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