Carbon nanotubes, graphene, electronic transport


Even changing one atom in nanoscale materials is expected to alter their properties due to their small physical sizes. Such sensitivity can be utilized to modify materials' properties from bottom up and is essential for the utility of nanoscale materials. As such, the impact of extrinsic atomic adsorbates was measured on pristine graphene and a network of carbon nanotubes using atomic hydrogen, cesium atoms, and dye molecules. In order to further quantify such an atomic influence, the resistance induced by a single potassium atom on metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotubes was measured for the first time. Carbon nanotubes are sensitive to adsorbates due to their high surface-to-volume ratio. The resistance arising from the presence of extrinsic impurity atoms depends on the types of nanotubes. Metallic carbon nanotubes are resilient to a long-ranged, Coulomb-like potential, whereas semiconducting carbon nanotubes are susceptible to these impurities. The difference in the scattering strength originates from the chirality of carbon nanotubes, which defines their unique electronic properties. This difference had not directly measured experimentally because of the issue of contact resistance, the difficulty of chirality identification, and the uncertainty in the number of impurity atoms introduced on carbon nanotubes. We synthesized atomically clean, long ( > 100 ?m) carbon nanotubes, and their chirality was identified by Rayleigh scattering spectroscopy. We introduced potassium atoms on the nanotubes to impose a long-range, Coulomb potential and measured the change in resistivity, excluding the contact resistance, by plotting the resistance as a function of the carbon nanotube length. The flux of potassium atoms coming onto the nanotubes was monitored by quartz crystal microbalance, and the scattering strength of a single potassium atom was deduced from the change in resistivity and the density of potassium atoms on the nanotubes. We found that the scattering strength of potassium atoms on semiconducting nanotubes depends on the charge carrier type (holes or electrons). Metallic nanotubes were found to be less affected by the presence of potassium atoms than semiconducting nanotubes, but the scattering strength showed a large dependence on Fermi energy. These experimental results were compared to theoretical simulations, and we found a good agreement with the experiments. Our findings provide crucial information for the application of carbon nanotubes for electronic devices, such as transistors and sensors.


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Graduation Date





Ishigami, Marsahiro


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

May 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Physics Commons