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Michael De Volder, Engineering Department - IfM

Studying at Cambridge


Marie Curie CIG grant

Marie Curie - Career Integration Grant (CIG-CANA)

Over the past two decades research in the field of nanotechnology has fostered the development of new carbon allotropes including individual sheets of graphite, known as graphene, as well as its tubular form known as carbon nanotubes (CNTs). These materials have properties unlike any other engineering material. For instance, they combine sizes below a nanometer in thickness (or diameter) and can span over several centimeters in length; hereby bridging molecular and macroscopic scales. Typical assets of CNTs and graphene include a Youngs Modulus of 1 TPa and a tensile strength of 100 GPa (i.e. higher than steel at only a fraction of its weight), high currents carrying capacity of up to 109 A/cm², and thermal conductivities of up to 3500 Wm-1K-1.


 These unique properties, along with the development of cost effective mass production processes have sparked not only academic but also a strong industrial interest in carbon nanomaterials. For commercialization of these products, it was essential in first instance to integrate CNT processing with existing high-throughput manufacturing methods such as for instance by injection moulding. Unfortunately, these processes result in un-organized CNT arrangements whose figures of merit typically drop by an order of magnitude compared to what is measured in individual nanoparticles.

Carbon nanotube cones coated with Au

This Marie Curie Career Integration Grant supports the purchase of equipment and consumables to develop processes that enable better fabrication and assembly of CNTs to develop next generation CNT devices.  In this work we found that a hierarchical approach which simultaneously optimises the organisation of CNTs at the nano, micro and macro scale to be particularly attractive. To this end we have successfully fabricated a very effective Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) tool in order to tailor the properties CNT structures. These are currently being optimised for the development of flexible battery electrodes. 


This project is funded by a European FP7 Marie Curie grant, which started in October 2013 and lasts for four years.