We present a floating catalyst synthesis route for individual, i.e., non-bundled, small diameter single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with a narrow chiral angle distribution peaking at high chiralities near the armchair species. An ex situ spark discharge generator was used to form iron particles with geometric number mean diameters of 3–4 nm and fed into a laminar flow chemical vapour deposition reactor for the continuous synthesis of long and high-quality SWCNTs from ambient pressure carbon monoxide. The intensity ratio of G/D peaks in Raman spectra up to 48 and mean tube lengths up to 4 μm were observed. The chiral distributions, as directly determined by electron diffraction in the transmission electron microscope, clustered around the (n,m) indices (7,6), (8,6), (8,7), and (9,6), with up to 70% of tubes having chiral angles over 20°. The mean diameter of SWCNTs was reduced from 1.10 to 1.04 nm by decreasing the growth temperature from 880 to 750 °C, which simultaneously increased the fraction of semiconducting tubes from 67% to 80%. Limiting the nanotube gas phase number concentration to ∼105 cm−3 prevented nanotube bundle formation that is due to collisions induced by Brownian diffusion. Up to 80% of 500 as-deposited tubes observed by atomic force and transmission electron microscopy were individual. Transparent conducting films deposited from these SWCNTs exhibited record low sheet resistances of 63 Ω/□ at 90% transparency for 550 nm light.
- carbon nanotubes
- chemical vapour deposition
- chiral symmetries
- semiconductor growth
- transmission electron microscopy