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A simple and effective method of controlling the growth of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays in a low-temperature plasma is presented. Ni catalyst was pretreated by plasma immersion ion implantation prior to the nanotube growth by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. Both the size distribution and the areal density of the catalyst nanoparticles decrease due to the ion-surface interactions. Consequently, the resulting size distribution of the vertically aligned carbon nanotubes is reduced to 50 ∼ 100 nm and the areal density is lowered (by a factor of ten) to 108 cm-2, which is significantly different from the very-high-density carbon nanotube forests commonly produced by thermal chemical vapor deposition. The efficiency of this pretreatment is compared with the existing techniques such as neutral gas annealing and plasma etching. These results are highly relevant to the development of the next-generation nanoelectronic and optoelectronic devices that require effective control of the density of nanotube arrays.