Fri, Jun 18, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Scientists explore producing carbon nanotubes locally

BY Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Efforts to combine nanotechnology with plasma technology have significantly improved due to new equipment which can produce high-performance carbon nanotubes, the National Science Council said yesterday.

Carbon nanotubes are of intense scientific interest around the world due to their outstanding electrical properties.

These properties make them particularly suitable for building a new generation of flat-screen displays known as field emission displays (FED), council officials said at a press conference.

Council Vice Chairman Chi Gou-chung (紀國鐘) said Taiwan might be able to compete with Japan, South Korea and other countries to try to dominate the future FED market with innovative technologies.

Scientists developing the country's first Inductively-Coupled Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition (ICP-CVD) demonstrated the carbon nanotubes produced in the lab at the press conference.

According to Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻), a professor of engineering and system science at National Tsing Hua University, the device can produce the kind of high-performance carbon nanotubes needed for the displays.

The technology used in the device has already received two patents from the government and two more from the US.

"With the equipment, we can grow carbon nanotubes homogeneously on a substrate whose diameter is six inches [15.24cm]," Tsai said.

Tsai said this means Taiwanese scientists will be able to develop core technologies for mass production of FED, which could one day replace liquid-crystal displays (LCD).

According to the Industrial Technology Research Institute, this country will become the largest manufacturer of thin-film transistor liquid-crystal displays in the third quarter of this year, taking about 38 percent of the global market.

Over the past four years, Tsai worked with his colleagues and counterparts from National Tai-wan Normal University, Chung Yuan Christian University, the ITRI and Nano Architect Research Corp (晶研科技), studying the growth mechanism of carbon nanotubes, characteristics of field emission and ICP-CVD.

Tsai said the newly-developed equipment might facilitate the production of state-of-the-art, large-scale video display systems.

National Science Council officials told reporters that the NT$38 million research project has resulted in 112 articles for academic journals and conferences.

They said it might possibly produce as many as 12 patents in Taiwan and the US.

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