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Nanomaterials & Self-Organization

Nanotechnology brings innovations to the society widely in energy/environment, information/communication, etc., by adding novel functions to materials by controlling their structures at nanometer-scale. We are trying to establish the base of materials nanotechnology.

Let us think about the future clean energy systems. For large-scale electric power generation by solar cells, efficient use of high purity silicon is the key so that we are trying to improve the efficiency several-ten times by making single-crystalline thin films. Transparent electrodes are important for both solar cells (yielding electricity from light) and displays & lightings (generating lights from electricity), and we try to replace metal oxide semiconductors using rare-elements with carbon nanotubes or graphene. Nanotube-silicon hybrids are promising to realize Li ion batteries of larger capacities for (hybrid) electric vehicles. In this way, nanotechnology can bring innovations widely even if we use abundant carbon and silicon elements only, and contributes to sustainable technological society.

But nanomaterials can never be made in macro-scale if we artificially manipulate atoms/molecules one-by-one. Self-organization, i.e. spontaneous formation of materials from numerous atoms/molecules, is the key. We are trying to fundamentally understand the processes of chemical reactions of atoms/molecules, formation of nanostructures, and evolution of higher-order structures. Based on the fundamental understandings with flexible thinking and idea, we are proposing and developing novel processes for nanomaterials and their devices.

Synthesis of Carbon Nanotubes

Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are a unique 1D nanomaterial quite thin ~nm and long ~mm. Extensive research made in physics/science fields clarified many unique properties and potential applications for them. On the other hand, as their price (more expensive than gold) shows, their fabrication process is still under development and their practical applications are very much limited. Chemistry & engineering should lead the innovations for their production and manufacturing. We have developed rapid growth process of millimeter-long SWCNTs and are trying to realize their practical production. Please click here for details.
We are developing mass-production processes of CNTs by utilizing three-dimensional space of reactors, and direct fabrication of various devices by growing CNTs on substrates.
    (3D Synthesis)
  • Soichiro HACHIYA (M2): Production of long single-wall CNTs by fluidized-bed.
  • Shohei OKADA (M1): Flame synthesis of single-wall CNTs.
  • Gaiya OGAWA (B4): Gas-phase continuous synthesis of CNTs by floating-supported catalyst.
  • Katsuya NAMIKI (B4): Continuous production of single-wall CNTs and their fibers by floating catalyst CVD method.
  • Yohei MAEDA (B4): Development of gas-phase continuous production process of carbon nanoparticle-nanotube hybrids.
  • Risa MAEDA (B4): Wet preparation of catalysts on ceramic powders and fluidized-bed synthesis of long CNTs.
  • Masahiro YOSHIDA (B4): Dry preparation of catalysts on ceramic powders and fluidized-bed synthesis of long CNTs.
  • (2D Synthesis)
  • Mami TAKABATAKE (M2): Pattern growth, hybridization, and conductive application of vertically aligned CNTs.
  • Ryo YAMADA (M2): Packing carbon fiber into polymer sheet at high density and vertical alignment for thermal interface material application.
  • Shunji KOBAYASHI (M1): Synthesis of CNTs on both faces of Cu, their structure control and thermal interface material application.
  • Michiko EDO (B4): Combinatorial screening of binary metal catalyst for chirality controlled synthesis of CNTs.
  • Sae KITAGAWA (B4): On metal synthesis, morphology control, and electron emitter application of CNTs.
  • Toshihiro SATO (B4): Reactivity evaluation of various carbon feed gases for CNTs by cold-gas CVD method.
  • Tatsuya TOMINAGA (B4): On-foil growth, structure control, and battery application of CNTs.
  • Shota MIURA (B4): On Al synthesis, morphology control, and heat-transfer application of carbon nanotubes.

Rapid SWCNT growth
Larger Movie.

Continuous production by fluidized bed: Movie

Graphene and Thin Films

Graphene is a unique 2D nanomaterial of a single atomic layer having excellent conducting, transparent, and mechanical properties. But their practical production method has not been developed yet. We are developing new processes; directly depositing graphene on substrates in order for its electronic device applications, and producing high quality graphene at low cost in order for its applications to solar cells and touch panels.
Such thin films can also be fabricated by dispersion and printing of CNTs easily. We are developing a loss-free process converting CNT powders to thin films toward flexible electronics applications.
  • Hiroyuki SHIRAE (D2): Loss-free fabrication process of highly-conductive, flexible CNT films.
  • Sachie AKIBA (M2): Direct fabrication and structural control of few/multi-layer graphene on substrates by etching-precipitation method.
  • Yukuya NAGAI (M1): Carefully controlled synthesis of graphene by CVD.
  • Kohki HAMADA (M1): Novel gas-phase purification method of CNTs.
  • Kei OHASHI (B4): Investigation of catalyst metals for direct growth of graphene on substrates by etching-precipitation method.

Battery Applications of CNTs

CNTs have both aspects of inorganic (having high conductivity, high tensile strength, and high thermal & chemical stabilities) and organic (light-weighted, flexible, and compatible with printing processes) matters and have a unique one-dimensional nanostructure. We are fabricating sponge-like CNT papers having several thousand times larger inner surface than the projected area by simple dispersion-filtration of long CNTs. Collaborating with specialists, we are developing innovative electrodes and cells for secondary batteries and electrochemical capacitors by capturing capacitive particles within the CNT sponge matrices.
  • Naiao XU (M2): Hybrid electrodes of CNT-sponge and graphene oxide for electrochemical capacitors.
  • Takayuki KOWASE (M2): Gas-phase synthesis of Si nanoparticles by evaporation and capturing in CNT films to make thick 3D anodes for Li secondary batteries.
  • Keisuke HORI (M2): CNT-sponge-based cathodes capturing sulfur for Li-S batteries.
  • Sohki KUZUHARA (M1): CNT-based oxygen-reduction catalysts for fuel cells.
  • Go YAMAGATA (M1): CNT-based hybrid electrodes of transition metal oxides for cathodes of Li secondary batteries.
  • Masaru YOKOO (B4): Development of full cells based on CNTs without using metallic foils.

Rapid Vapor Deposition

Thin films of silicon and various metals are supporting the modern society widely. They are essential components in solar cells and rechargeable batteries, and such clean energy devices needs to be produced simply and rapidly at low cost to be widely used.
Vacuum deposition is normally used in basic research to fabricate thin films slowly and carefully under ultrahigh vacuum, however, it realizes rapid low-cost production of thin films such as aluminum-coated plastic films for potato crisps packages. By heating the source material at temperature much higher than its melting point, rapid deposition at 10 um/min becomes possible. We are developing rapid vapor deposition processes of highly crystalline Si films for solar cells, porous Si films for lithium secondary batteries, and functionalized metal films for current collectors in secondary batteries and electrochemical capacitors.
  • Shigeki AOI (M2): Rapid vapor deposition of Cu, hybridization with CNTs, and application to Li secondary battery anodes.
  • Eri MURAMOTO (M2): Simple fabrication and performance improvement of CNT-coated Si solar cells.
  • Makoto FUJITA (M1): Rapid vapor deposition and transfer processes of crystalline Si films for solar cells.
  • Yoichiro HONDA (M1): Rapid vapor deposition of Al, hybridization with CNTs, and current collector application for battery/capacitors.
  • Naoya ISHIJIMA (B4): Development of CNT-printed flexible Si solar cells
  • Yuta HASHIZUME (B4): Rapid vapor deposition of self-supporting Si/metal/Si films and their application to lithium secondary battery anodes

1-min-epitaxy and lift-off of Si films for solar cells

1-min deposition of porous Si films for Li ion batteries

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Noda Laboratory,
Department of Applied Chemistry,
School of Advanced Science and Engineering,
Waseda University,
3-4-1 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8555, Japan