Skip to Main Content
A class of carbon-nanotube (CNT) composite materials was developed to take advantage of the precise high-aspect-ratio shape of patterned vertically grown nanotube forests. These patterned forests were rendered mechanically robust by chemical vapor infiltration and released by etching an underlying sacrificial layer. We fabricated a diverse variety of functional MEMS devices, including cantilevers, bistable mechanisms, and thermomechanical actuators, using this technique. A wide range of chemical-vapor-depositable materials could be used as fillers; here, we specifically explored infiltration by silicon and silicon nitride. The CNT framework technique may enable high-aspect-ratio MEMS fabrication from a variety of materials with desired properties such as high-temperature stability or robustness. The elastic modulus of the silicon-nanotube and silicon nitride-nanotube composites is dominated by the filler material, but they remain electrically conductive, even when the filler (over 99% of the composite's mass) is insulating.