Hydrogen etching and cutting of multiwall carbon nanotubes

Michael J. Behr, E. Ashley Gaulding, K. Andre Mkhoyan, Eray S. Aydil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The interaction of H atoms with the curved concentric graphene walls of a multiwall carbon nanotube and the stacked planar graphene sheets of graphite was investigated using a combination of high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) in conjunction with electron energy-loss and Raman spectroscopies. Continuous cylindrical graphene walls of a nanotube are etched and amorphized by the H atoms. Etching is not uniform across the length of the CNT but rather, small etch pits form at defective sites on the CNT walls along the entire nanotube length. Once an etch pit is formed, etching proceeds rapidly, and the remainder of the CNT is quickly etched away. The carbon K core-loss edge spectra collected from etch pits do not differ from the spectra collected from pristine CNT walls, indicating that reactions occur exclusively at the exposed graphene edges. Similar observations were made when sheets of planar graphite were exposed to H atoms. Confocal Raman spectroscopic measurements revealed that H etching occurs preferentially at the graphite edges. Eventually, large holes appear in the graphite, as observed under HRTEM. Etched holes in planar graphite are similar to the etch pits that form when a graphene layer is rolled up to form the cylindrical walls of a CNT. Once a hole or an etch pit is formed, the edges of the planar graphene sheets or cylindrical CNT walls become exposed, and H etching proceeds quickly from these edges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1194
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology B:Nanotechnology and Microelectronics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank O. Ugurlu for technical support. This material is based primarily on the work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Grant No. CBET-0613629. This work utilized the University of Minnesota Characterization Facility, which receives partial support from the NSF-NNIN program and capital equipment funding from the NSF through the MRSEC program. The H flux monitor work was supported by the Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy Science, Contract No. DE-SC0001939.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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