The role of water in carbon feed on the surface-guided growth of horizontally aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes (HA-SWCNTs) was investigated. It is shown that the amount of water can be optimized to favor HA-SWCNT growth, which is proposed to be due to selective etching of carbon deposits at carbon–metal interface. Without water, nanotube–nanotube interaction and carbon accumulation at the interface are disproportionately large compared to the rate of nanotube growth, leading to catalyst deactivation. With excess water, suppression of nanotube growth occurs, resulting in reduced carbon yield on the surface. Intermediate carbon/water feed ratios achieve cleaner growth with high efficiency.

This paper was originally published in Chemical Physics Letters (2012) 525–526, 82–86.

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