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New-generation carbon-based nanomaterials

Canatu’s innovative NanoBuds™ carbon nanomaterial is breaking new ground with its unique capability to produce and directly deposit conductive networks on any surface. The company is currently building pilot-scale production facilities for patterned and homogeneous thin films to take advantage of these capabilities.

ITO (indium tin oxide) and other metal oxides have long dominated the market for transparent and conductive thin film coatings in the electronics industry. The brittle nature of metal oxides limits their use in printing and other modern manufacturing technologies, however, and their cost often fluctuates because of shifts in demand for indium, a scarce zinc by-product.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and other carbon nanoparticles have been seen as prime candidates for replacing ITO for some time, due to their environmentally sound organic nature, low material costs, and exceptional electronic, optical, and mechanical properties. The major factor holding back the full-scale commercial use of CNT-based thin films, however, has been the long and labour-intensive batch process normally needed to produce them.

Canatu’s proprietary low-cost, single-step direct deposition technology overcomes these problems and promises to transform carbon nanomaterial-based thin films into a truly viable option. Canatu’s technology produces fully functional, patterned coatings directly onto PET, glass, or almost any substrate directly from the synthesis reactor without a liquid phase. Not only is this process reliable, continuous, and energyefficient, it is also a very scalable and environmentally sound method for producing functional components for use in electronics.

An outstanding new material

Extensive studies have shown that Canatu’s NanoBuds™ – produced by attaching fullerene molecules to the outside surface of carbon nanotubes – are extremely efficient electron field emitters and have excellent conductive properties.

NanoBuds™ combine the extraordinary physical properties of carbon nanotubes with the versatile chemical properties of fullerenes, resulting in an outstanding new hybrid material. The properties of this material can be customised to have very specific features, including various patterns, purities, chemical functionality, electrical conductivity, transparency, field emission kick-off voltage, electromagnetic absorption, and other application-driven properties.

Canatu has a portfolio of over 70 patents, covering new-generation materials with the potential to make a valuable contribution to improving the performance and reducing the cost of optical, energy generation, and electrical devices, while reducing their environmental footprint.

Canatu’s product development interests lie in areas including:

  • transparent conducting thin films for transparent electrodes (ITO replacement)
  • electrostatic dissipation and electromagnetic shielding
  • field-emitting surfaces for displays and lighting
  • saturable absorbers for pulsed lasers, optical signal regenerators, and waveshapers, and
  • thin film transistors and sensors.

The company currently offers:

  • high-purity, superior crystallinity single-wall nanotube and NanoBud™ evaluation packages
  • client-specific technology demos on substrates and in devices, and
  • client-driven development projects for specific commercial applications.
> David Brown
(Published in HighTech Finland 2011)