This study reports a novel approach for growing multilayer thin films consisting of alternate layers of carbon nanotubes (CNT) and nickel on Si (1 0 0) substrates and justifies their use in thin film temperature sensors. A low pressure chemical vapor deposition system was employed for synthesizing CNT films, while Ni films were deposited by electrodeposition. Porous-Si was used as substrate to increase adhesion between the layers of the multilayer structure. The structure of the multilayer films and the quality of the CNT grown were analyzed using several characterization methods, including scanning electron microscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, x-ray auger electron spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy. The electrical characteristics were investigated using a van der Pauw setup and the effect of the increasing number of CNT layers in the multilayer structure was studied. The sensitivity of the multilayer film was found to increase with increasing number of CNT layers, despite the decrease of the temperature coefficient of resistance. On the other hand, the initial resistance was found to increase. Results indicated that these multilayer structures are appropriate for fabricating highly sensitive thin film gauges that can detect lower heat fluxes with more accuracy. © 2019 IOP Publishing Ltd.