High-Aspect-Ratio Metal Microfabrication by Nickel Electroplating of Patterned Carbon Nanotube Forests


High-side-ratio metallic microstructures have a variety of potential applications in sensing and actuation. However, fabrication remains a challenge. We have fabricated nickel microstructures with over 20:1 side ratios by electroplating patterned carbon-coated carbon-nanotube forests using a nickel chloride bathtub. Pulse plating permits nickel ions to diffuse into the inside of the forest throughout off portions of the cycle. Done properly, this solves the problem of the formation of an external crust, which otherwise blocks nickel deposition in the interior of the structures. Thus, densities of 86 ± 3percent of bulk Ni for the composite structures are achieved. Cantilever structures do not yield below load, but break. Measurements of the fabric properties of this composite material indicate an elastic modulus of ~ 42 GPa and a strength of 400 MPa. We tend to demonstrate the utility of this technique with an external field magnetic actuator consisting of an indication mass and two flexures. We achieved 1-mN actuation forces.

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