The main objective of the present thesis is to deepen the understanding of the mechanisms involved in catalytic growth of carbon nanotubes (CNT) and related processes, such as the catalytic hydrogenation, and to use this knowledge to optimize the experimental approaches in order to gain better control in the synthesis and modification of carbon nanomaterials. Controlled growth of the CNT is achieved using gas-phase prepared catalyst particles (Fe, Co) which serve as individual catalytic nucleation sites in a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process. These studies highlight that the controlled preparation of catalyst particles is a crucial step in order to control the CNT morphology. The resultant CNT diameter and the CNT density are found to increase with increasing nanoparticle diameter and density, respectively. The number of walls of the CNT also increases with increasing primary catalyst size. The experimentally derived correlations between the particle diameter on one hand and the CNT diameter and the CNT number of walls on the other hand are attributed to an increase of the catalyst's volume-to-surface area ratio with increasing particle size. While the availability of carbon dissolved within the catalyst at the point of nucleation is determined by the catalyst volume, the amount of carbon required to form a cap depends on the surface area of the catalyst particle. Electron microscopy studies of the catalyst/substrate/carbon interfaces of CNT grown from Fe nanoparticles reveal that the CNT walls are anchored to the oxide substrate which contests the general argument that the CNT walls stem from atomic steps at the catalyst. It is argued that after nucleation, the substrate itself provides a catalytic functionality towards the stimulation of ongoing CNT growth, whereas the catalytic activity of the metal particle is more restricted to the nucleation process. Selective hard-magnetic functionalization of CNT tips has been achieved in a plasma-enhanced CVD process. Hard-magnetically terminated CNT, i.e. CNT with a FePt nanoparticle at each tip, are directly grown using FePt catalysts. Fe/Pt thin films with a strongly over-stoichiometric Fe content in the starting catalyst composition yield CNT with a significant number of particles in the hard-magnetic phase. Anisotropic etching of graphite through Co catalyst particles in hydrogen atmosphere at elevated temperatures (i.e. catalytic hydrogenation) is reported. Catalytic hydrogenation is a potential key engineering route for the fabrication of graphene nanoribbons with atomic precision. While in previous studies the etching of zigzag channels was preferred, the present investigations reveal preferential etching of armchair channels, which provides a means to tailor graphene nanostructures with specific edge termination. Further, detailed morphological and structural characterization of the Co particles provide insight into the hydrogenation mechanism which is still a matter of controversy.