Iron Catalysts for the Growth of Carbon Nanofibers: Fe, Fe3C or Both?
journal contributionposted on 27.12.2011 by Zhanbing He, Jean-Luc Maurice, Aurélien Gohier, Chang Seok Lee, Didier Pribat, Costel Sorin Cojocaru
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
Iron is a widely used catalyst for the growth of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) or carbon nanofibers (CNFs) by catalytic chemical vapor deposition. However, both Fe and Fe–C compounds (generally, Fe3C) have been found to catalyze the growth of CNTs/CNFs, and a comparison study of their respective catalytic activities is still missing. Furthermore, the control of the crystal structure of iron-based catalysts, that is α-Fe or Fe3C, is still a challenge, which not only obscures our understanding of the growth mechanisms of CNTs/CNFs, but also complicates subsequent procedures, such as the removal of catalysts for better industrial applications. Here, we show a partial control of the phase of iron catalysts (α-Fe or Fe3C), obtained by varying the growth temperatures during the synthesis of carbon-based nanofibers/nanotubes in a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition reactor. We also show that the structure of CNFs originating from Fe3C is bamboo-type, while that of CNFs originating from Fe is not. Moreover, we directly compare the growth rates of carbon-based nanofibers/nanotubes during the same experiments and find that CNFs/CNTs grown by α-Fe nanoparticles are longer than CNFs grown from Fe3C nanoparticles. The influence of the type of catalyst on the growth of CNFs is analyzed and the corresponding possible growth mechanisms, based on the different phases of the catalysts, are discussed.