Carbon nanotube conditioning: ab initio simulations of the effect of interwall interaction, defects and doping on the electronic properties of carbon nanotubes.
Soto Castillo, Matias
Barrera, Enrique V
Doctor of Philosophy
Using carbon nanotubes for electrical conduction applications at the macroscale has been shown to be a difficult task for some time now, mainly, due to defects and impurities present, and lack of uniform electronic properties in synthesized carbon nanotube bundles. Some researchers have suggested that growing only metallic armchair nanotubes and arranging them with an ideal contact length could lead to the ultimate electrical conductivity; however, such recipe presents too high of a cost to pay. A different route is to learn to manage the defects, impurities, and the electronic properties of carbon nanotubes present in bundles grown by current state-of-the-art reactors, so that the electrical conduction of a bundle or even wire may be enhanced. In our work, we have used first-principles density functional theory calculations to study the effect of interwall interaction, defects and doping on the electronic structure of metallic, semi-metal and semiconducting single- and double-walled carbon nanotubes in order to gain a clear picture of their properties. The electronic band gap for a range of zigzag single-walled carbon nanotubes with chiral indices (5,0) – (30,0) was obtained. Their properties were used as a stepping stone in the study of the interwall interaction in double-walled carbon nanotubes, from which it was found that the electronic band gap depends on the type of inner and outer tubes, average diameter, and interwall distance. The effect of vacancy defects was also studied for a range of single-walled carbon nanotubes. It was found that the electronic band gap is reduced for the entire range of zigzag carbon nanotubes, even at vacancy defects concentrations of less than 1%. Finally, interaction potentials obtained via first-principles calculations were generalized by developing mathematical models for the purpose of running simulations at a larger length scale using molecular dynamics of the adsorption doping of diatomic iodine. An ideal adsorption site was found using a stochastic approach and with an adsorption energy higher than other values in the literature.