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Catalyst and catalyst support morphology evolution in single-walled carbon nanotube supergrowth: Growth deceleration and termination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2011

Seung Min Kim*
School of Materials Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
Cary L. Pint*
Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005
Placidus B. Amama
Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 45433; and University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio 45469
Robert H. Hauge
Department of Chemistry and Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005
Benji Maruyama
Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 45433
Eric A. Stach*
School of Materials Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
a)These authors contributed equally to this work.
a)These authors contributed equally to this work.
b)Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:
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Detailed understanding of growth termination in vertically aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) made via supergrowth, or water-assisted growth, remains critical to achieving the ultralong SWNTs necessary for next-generation applications. We describe the irreversible catalyst morphology evolution that occurs during growth, and which limits the lifetime of surface supported catalysts. Growth termination is strongly dependent on growth temperature, but not sensitive to C2H2:H2O ratio. In addition to both planar Ostwald ripening of small (sub-5 nm) Fe catalyst particles and diffusion of metal atoms into the alumina support, other features that contribute to growth termination or deceleration are described, including center-of-mass particle motions and coalescence of smaller species of surface supported Fe nanoparticles. Additionally, a temperature-induced structural transition in the alumina catalyst support is found to be coincident with abrupt growth termination at temperatures of 800 °C and higher. In situ electron microscopy observations are used to directly support these observations.

Invited Feature Paper
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2010

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