Growth and Sintering of Fullerene Nanotubes

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Science  18 Nov 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5188, pp. 1218-1222
DOI: 10.1126/science.266.5188.1218


Carbon nanotubes produced in arcs have been found to have the form of multiwalled fullerenes, at least over short lengths. Sintering of the tubes to each other is the predominant source of defects that limit the utility of these otherwise perfect fullerene structures. The use of a water-cooled copper cathode minimized such defects, permitting nanotubes longer than 40 micrometers to be attached to macroscopic electrodes and extracted from the bulk deposit. A detailed mechanism that features the high electric field at (and field-emission from) open nanotube tips exposed to the arc plasma, and consequent positive feedback effects from the neutral gas and plasma, is proposed for tube growth in such arcs.