This project addresses fundamental challenges in key aspects associated with scalable synthesis, patterning, and integration of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene. Novel high-throughput scalable nanomanufacturing (SNM) techniques are being pioneered with the capability of continuous processing of revolutionary carbon-based devices and hybrid systems, promising a transformative leap in the commercialization of carbon nanomaterials. The success of this work may jumpstart bulk production and practical large area applications based on graphene and CNTs. The project also implements a strong outreach and educational plan aimed at promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education among underrepresented groups. The knowledge and experience gained in these fabrication technologies are being made available to the broader scientific community through conference presentations, journal publications, and the user network of the NSF-supported National Nanofabrication Infrastructure Network (NNIN), where the University of Michigan is one of the NNIN sites.
TECHNICAL DETAILS: The objective of this project is to invent and develop new high-throughput SNM technologies that will bring graphene- and CNT-based nanomaterials and their hybrids to practical large-area applications in electronics, optoelectronics, and mechanics. A multidisciplinary approach has been adopted to address fundamental roadblocks hindering continuous nanomanufacturing of carbon nanomaterials. A fundamental understanding of processing mechanisms enables the design of machines and processes that in turn provides high-throughput manufacturing of nanoscale structures, devices, and systems using carbon-based materials. The project includes building a laboratory-scale machine for continuous chemical vapor deposition (CVD) synthesis of CNTs and graphene on flexible substrates, and the integration of a suite of novel and scalable patterning and modification techniques suitable for large-area carbon nanomaterial films. Together, the SNM technology is being used to build and test CNT- and graphene-based hybrid photovoltaics, metamaterials, and high-surface-area filters. The project also implements a summer research opportunity program, and creates a mobile educational exhibit and associated activities that can help engage underrepresented student at conventions of the national societies such as the National Society of Black Engineers. Students are receiving cutting-edge training in nanotechnology, while gaining valuable experience in understanding what is necessary to commercialize nanomaterials and manufacturing processes via interactions with industrial partners.