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Acetylene and Ethylene Adsorption during Floating Fe Catalyst Formation at the Onset of Carbon Nanotube Growth and the Effect of Sulfur Poisoning: a DFT Study

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posted on 2024-07-10, 21:14 authored by Balázs Orbán, Tibor Höltzl
Here, we investigated the adsorption of acetylene and ethylene on iron clusters and nanoparticles, which is a crucial aspect in the nascent phase of carbon nanotube growth by floating catalyst chemical vapor deposition (FCCVD). The effect of sulfur on adsorption was also studied due to its indispensable role in the process and its commonly known impact on metal catalyst poisoning. We performed systematic density functional theory (DFT) computations, considering numerous adsorption configurations and iron particles of various sizes (Fen, n = 3–10, 13, 55). We found that acetylene binds significantly more strongly than ethylene and prefers different adsorption sites. The presence of sulfur decreased the adsorption strength only in the immediate proximity of the adsorbate, suggesting that the effect of sulfur is mainly of steric origin while electronic effects play only a minor role. Higher sulfur coverage of the catalyst surface significantly weakened the binding of acetylene or ethylene. To further investigate this interaction, Bader’s atoms in molecules (AIM) analysis and charge density difference (CDD) were used, which showed electron transfer from iron clusters or nanoparticles to the adsorbate molecules. The charge transfer exhibited a decreasing trend as sulfur coverage increased. These results can also contribute to the understanding of other iron-based catalytic processes involving hydrocarbons and sulfur, such as the Fischer–Tropsch synthesis.

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