Controlled Fabrication of Aligned Carbon Nanotube Architectures for Microelectronics Packaging Applications

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Zhu, Lingbo
Wong, C. P.
Hess, Dennis W.
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This thesis is devoted to the fabrication of carbon nanotube structures for microelectronics packaging applications with an emphasis on fundamental studies of nanotube growth and assembly, wetting of nanotube structures, and nanotube-based composites. A CVD process is developed that allows controlled growth of a variety of CNT structures, such as CNT films, bundles, and stacks. Use of an Al2O3 support enhances the Fe catalyst activity by increasing the CNT growth rate by nearly two orders of magnitude under the same growth conditions. By introducing a trace amount of weak oxidants into the CVD chamber during CNT growth, aligned CNT ends can be opened and/or functionalized, depending on the selection of oxidants. By varying the growth temperature, CNT growth can be performed in a gas diffusion- or kinetics-controlled regime. To overcome the challenges that impede implementation of CNTs in circuitry, a CNT transfer process was proposed to assemble aligned CNT structures (films, stacks &bundles) at low temperature which ensures compatibility with current microelectronics fabrication sequences and technology. Field emission and electrical testing of the as-assembled CNT devices indicate good electrical contact between CNTs and solder and a very low contact resistance across CNT/solder interfaces. For attachment of CNTs and other applications (e.g. composites), wetting of nanotube structures was studied. Two model surfaces with two-tier scale roughness were fabricated by controlled growth of CNT arrays followed by coating with fluorocarbon layers formed by plasma polymerization to study roughness geometric effects on superhydrophobicity. Due to the hydrophobicity of nanotube structures, electrowetting was investigated to reduce the hydrophobicity of aligned CNTs by controllably reducing the interfacial tension between carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and liquids. Electrowetting can greatly reduce the contact angle of liquids on the surfaces of aligned CNT films. However, contact angle saturation still occurs. Variable frequency microwave (VFM) radiation can greatly improve the CNT/epoxy interfacial bonding strength. Compared to composites cured by thermal heating, VFM-cured composites demonstrate higher CNT/matrix interfacial bonding strength, which is reflected in composite negative thermal expansion. The improved CNT/epoxy interface enhances the thermal conductivity of the composites by 26-30%.
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