Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (11): 1207-1223.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201811011

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Carbon Nanotube Films: Preparation and Application in Flexible Electronics

Haomin WANG1,2,Maoshuai HE1,3,*(),Yingying ZHANG2,*()   

  1. 1 School of Materials Science and Engineering, Shandong University of Science and Technology, Qingdao 266590, Shandong Province, P. R. China
    2 Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P. R. China
    3 College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Qingdao University of Science and Technology, Qingdao 266042, Shandong Province, P. R. China
  • Received:2018-11-08 Accepted:2018-12-03 Published:2018-12-07
  • Contact: Maoshuai HE,Yingying ZHANG;
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51672153);the National Key Basic Research Program of China (973)(2016YFA0200103)


Flexible electronic devices have attracted immense attention in recent years. Conventional electronics that are predominantly fabricated with rigid metallic materials demonstrate poor flexibility. Compared to traditional electronic devices, flexible electronic devices with better flexibility can adapt to different working environments. Consequently, they fit perfectly with different systems with minimal rejections. However, such flexible electronic devices need to achieve good extensibility and flexibility without compromising on their electronic properties. Therefore, new challenges and requirements arise while fabricating conductive materials. Manufacturing of flexible metal electrodes for flexible electronic devices include strategies such as reducing the thickness of the electrodes and designing electrodes with unique structures. However, these technologies are complex and expensive. Carbon nanotube (CNT) films exhibit good flexibility, excellent conductivity, good chemical and thermal stability, as well as good optical transparency, making them ideal candidates for flexible electronics. Therefore, the preparation and application of CNT films for the development of next generation flexible electronics have been extensively studied. In this review, we summarize the recent advances in the preparation of CNT films and their application in flexible electronic devices. Initially, the two main kinds of preparation methods for CNT films—dry and wet methods—are introduced. The dry methods for CNT film preparation include the membrane extraction method based on a vertical array of CNTs and the floating catalytic chemical vapor deposition method. Moreover, the wet methods predominantly discussed include vacuum filtration method, impregnation method, electrodeposition method, self-assembly method, and spraying method. Subsequently, the latest research advancements in assembly techniques, their performance and applications in various flexible electronics are discussed. This review primarily introduces the application of CNT films in the fields of flexible sensors, flexible energy devices, flexible transistors, and flexible display screens. The fundamentals of typical flexible sensors, such as strain sensors, pressure sensors, gas sensors, temperature sensors, and humidity sensors are presented. Besides, flexible lithium-ion batteries, flexible nanogenerators, and flexible thermoelectric devices based on CNT films are also investigated. Moreover, other flexible electronic devices, such as flexible transparent conductive film, flexible transistor, and flexible photodetector, based on CNT films are briefly described. Finally, advanced flexible electronics based on CNT films are summarized. The challenges and future prospects of these films are also discussed.

Key words: Carbon nanotube film, Dry method, Wet method, Conductive film, Flexible electronics