Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Physics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Physics


Yoke Khin Yap


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are interesting materials with extraordinary properties for various applications. Here, vertically-aligned multiwalled CNTs (VA-MWCNTs) are grown by our dual radio frequency plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). After optimizing the synthesis processes, these VA-MWCNTs were fabricated in to a series of devices for applications in vacuum electronics, glucose biosensors, glucose biofuel cells, and supercapacitors In particular, we have created the so-called PMMA-CNT matrices (opened-tip CNTs embedded in poly-methyl methacrylate) that are promising components in a novel energy sensing, generation and storage (SGS) system that integrate glucose biosensors, biofuel cells, and supercapacitors. The content of this thesis work is described as follows:

1. We have first optimized the synthesis of VA-MWCNTs by our PECVD technique. The effects of CH4 flow rate and growth duration on the lengths of these CNTs were studied.

2. We have characterized these VA-MWCNTs for electron field emission. We noticed that as grown CNTs suffers from high emission threshold, poor emission density and poor long-term stability. We attempted a series of experiments to understand ways to overcome these problems. First, we decrease the screening effects on VA-MWCNTs by creating arrays of self-assembled CNT bundles that are catalyst-free and opened tips. These bundles are found to enhance the field emission stability and emission density. Subsequently, we have created PMMA-CNT matrices that are excellent electron field emitters with an emission threshold field of more than two-fold lower than that of the as-grown sample. Furthermore, no significant emission degradation was observed after a continuous emission test of 40 hours (versus much shorter tests in reported literatures). Based on the new understanding we learnt from the PMMA-CNT matrices, we further created PMMA-STO-CNT matrices by embedding opened-tip VA-MWCNTs that are coated with strontium titanate (SrTiO3) with PMMA. We found that the PMMA-STO-CNT matrices have all the desired properties of the PMMA-CNT matrices. Furthermore, PMMA-STO-CNT matrices offer much lower emission threshold field, about five-fold lower than that of as grown VA-MWCNTs. The new understandings we obtained are important for practical application of VA-MWCNTs in field emission devices.

3. Subsequently, we have functionalized PMMA-CNT matrices for glucose biosensing. Our biosensor was developed by immobilized glucose oxidase (GOχ) on the opened-tip CNTs exposed on the matrices. The durability, stability and sensitivity of the biosensor were studied. In order to understand the performance of miniaturized glucose biosensors, we have then investigated the effect of working electrode area on the sensitivity and current level of our biosensors.

4. Next, functionalized PMMA-CNT matrices were utilized for energy generation and storage. We found that PMMA-CNT matrices are promising component in glucose/O2 biofuel cells (BFCs) for energy generation. The construction of these BFCs and the effect of the electrode area on the power density of these BFCs were investigated. Then, we have attempted to use PMMA-CNT matrices as supercapacitors for energy storage devices. The performance of these supercapacitors and ways to enhance their performance are discussed.

5. Finally, we further evaluated the concept of energy SGS system that integrated glucose biosensors, biofuel cells, and supercapacitors. This SGS system may be implantable to monitor and control the blood glucose level in our body.

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