Carbon nanotubes would make ideal wires in advanced microchips, because electricity can flow through them more quickly than it can through silicon. But a method to easily integrate such tiny, sticky, floppy strands into circuits has proved elusive. Now scientists report the first simple, inexpensive technique for building large-scale networks of single-walled carbon nanotubes. The process, developed by Yael Hanein of Tel Aviv University and her colleagues, first involves growing nanotubes between catalytic spots on top of silicon pillars. The nanotubes form a horizontal network between the spots, and the properties of the nanotubes can be tailored based on the catalysts selected. The method can create circuit patterns consisting of hundreds of nanotubes, and the extraordinarily strong nanotubes can then be stamped onto a variety of surfaces, such as silicon or plastic.

The researchers describe the results in the September 12 Nano Letters.