A joint project between Surrey University’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and Trinity College Dublin has found beneficial properties of carbon nanotube polymer nanocomposites for use in electron emitter material.
The collaborative research between the two institutions found that a composite of carbon nanotubes embedded in a polymer can provide exceptional performance for field-emission cathodes.
According to the researchers, efficient emission of electrons from a composite surface is possible by controlling the concentration of carbon nanotubes.
Under high voltage, the electrons strike a phosphor screen creating red, green and blue colours that can potentially be used for applications such as low-power back-lighting units in LCD televisions and large-area field-emission displays.
Tailoring the correct choice of polymer and the chemical treatment of the nanotubes is said to open up the possibility of large-area carbon-nanotube-based electronics, including transparent electronics on plastic.
Dr David Carey, who is leading the project, said: ‘Our successful exploitation of carbon-nanotube-based electronics for display technology demonstrates the importance of multi-disciplinary collaborative research. The work at Surrey and Dublin shows how making changes on the nano scale can affect a material’s properties over a much larger scale and can lead to their exploitation in large-area electronics.’
Prof Ravi Silva, director of the ATI, added: ‘This type of high-quality research that brings nanoscience through to engineering is what could lead to many practical applications that require high-intensity electron field-emission sources. The ATI at Surrey has significant expertise in this field and is leading the way in the application of carbon nanotubes.’