Vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (VACNTs) grown on bulk copper substrate are of great importance for CNT real-life applications as thermal interface materials in microelectronic packaging. However, their reproducible synthesis has been a great challenge so far. In this study, by introducing a well-controlled conformal Al2O3 support layer on the bulk copper substrate by atomic layer deposition (ALD) prior to the deposition of the iron catalyst layer, we reproducibly synthesize VACNTs of good alignment and high quality on the copper substrate, using a conventional thermal chemical vapor deposition process. The alignment and the quality are characterized by scanning electronic microscopy and Raman spectroscopy, respectively. The roles of the conformal Al2O3 support layer are discussed. A kinetics-controlled growth mechanism is shown. This progress provides a viable VACNT commercial application for thermal management, on the basis of which, we show a recent progress on a state-of-art Si/VACNT/Cu assembling process, named “chemical anchoring”. The high quality of the VACNTs on the copper growth substrate and the covalent bonding formed between the VACNTs and the silicon mating substrate greatly reduces the thermal resistance of the VACNT-mediated thermal interface.
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Lin, W., Wong, C.P. Synthesis of Vertically Aligned Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes on Copper Substrates for Applications as Thermal Interface Materials. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1158, 301 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-1158-F03-01