Low-Cost, High-Volume Scale-Up of CVD Films and Nano-Structured Materials for Industrial Applications

Karlheinz Strobl, Mathieu Monville, Riju Singhal, Samuel Wright, and Leonard Rosenbaum
CVD Equipment Corporation, 355 S. Technology Drive, Central Islip, New York 11722, USA


Graphene, carbon nanotubes (CNTs), silicon nanowires (SiNWs) and many other nanomaterials and thin films can be produced on flexible, often metallic, substrates using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) based processing. CVD tools can be implemented in many different ways to produce a wide range of material compositions and geometries (OD, 1D, 2D and 3D).

Most traditional style CVD tools are limited in production volume to the size of the substrates that can fit inside the process chamber. Therefore, when it comes to scale up, the general thinking is that one needs to go to a roll to roll or inline CVD methodology (depending if the substrate is flexible or not) to be able to mass produce CVD enhanced surfaces or large area surfaces covered with selected nanomaterials. Given that such CVD roll to roll systems are designed for a specific process, the flexibility (as well as much of the tunability) of the CVD technique is lost. It is also important to note that roll to roll process equipment is specialized, resulting in higher capital equipment costs, as compared to traditional CVD tools. Therefore, scaling up nanomaterial processes developed with traditional CVD tools from R&D to production can become expensive, time consuming and risky, thus delaying the commercialization efforts of novel nanomaterials.

Many scale up efforts for industrial manufacturing of low cost CVD graphene films on copper foil are presently based on atmospheric pressure CVD roll to roll system concepts. CNT scale up efforts have primarily taken the route of fluidized bed processing for shorter (< 10 μm), lower quality CNTs, thus limiting their potential commercial value proposition.

We will present the test results of nanomaterials manufactured using a novel CVD reactor design family 1,2 that allow for high quality, uniform production at a much higher production rate than with a traditional R&D CVD reactor design. Process transfer from R&D to production quantities is quick and straightforward. In particular, we demonstrate the route to low-cost high-volume production of CVD graphene, mm-long CNTs, and SiNWs of controllable length and diameter. We demonstrate that this novel CVD reactor design family, operated in a batch processing mode, can outperform roll to roll CVD systems throughput, hence cost per coated area, while still retaining the material properties and uniformity. We also demonstrate that our design allows for the production of large rolls of nanomaterial-coated flexible substrates that can be used in subsequent roll to roll processing for various applications such as battery electrodes, flexible transparent conductors, CNT-enabled composite materials in paper and/or non-woven fabric format, etc.

In summary, we present an alternative, accelerated, less risk and less cost route to the scale up manufacturing of a range of nanomaterials and thin films.

1Scalable 2D-FILM CVD Synthesis, patent pending
2Scalable CVD Film and Nanomaterial Synthesis, patent pending.


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Presented by Karlheinz Strobl at the 2014 Nanotech Conference & Expo in Washington D.C.