The concept of co-catalytic layer structures for controlled laser-induced chemical vapor deposition of carbon nanotubes is established, in which a thin Ta support layer chemically aids the initial Fe catalyst reduction. This enables a significant reduction in laser power, preventing detrimental positive optical feedback and allowing improved growth control. Systematic study of experimental parameters combined with simple thermostatic modeling establishes general guidelines for the effective design of such catalyst/absorption layer combinations. Local growth of vertically aligned carbon nanotube forests directly on flexible polyimide substrates is demonstrated, opening up new routes for nanodevice design and fabrication.
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