Well ordered arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are of interest for a broad range of potential applications including energy storage and as catalyst supports. On some substrates such as copper and nickel, CNTs do not grow well or at all. We have previously shown that mesoporous silica thin films can be deposited onto metal substrates including copper and nickel, and that, after removal of the templating surfactant, the mesoporous silica film can be used as template for the electrodeposition of metals to give metal nanostructures.[Campbell et. al., Micro. Meso. Mater., 97, 114-121 (2006)] The size of the metal nanostructures makes them attractive as seeds for growth of CNTs. We have found that under appropriate conditions nickel deposited into mesoporous silica can act as catalyst for CNT growth on a number of different substrates including copper coated silicon wafers, and nickel foam. Using three different furnaces and different feed streams it was found that the growth is sensitive to carbon source; acetylene and ethylene both produced CNTs whereas attempts to produce CNTs using xylene have so far been unsuccessful.
Well ordered mesoporous silica thin films could potentially give arrays of nanorod seeds, leading to well ordered arrays of CNTs, SEM images of some of our samples show dense CNT arrays, but do not indicate significant ordering.