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Dynamic Instability of Individual Carbon Nanotube Growth Revealed by In Situ Homodyne Polarization Microscopy

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posted on 01.10.2021, 13:39 by Vladimir Pimonov, Huy-Nam Tran, Léonard Monniello, Saïd Tahir, Thierry Michel, Renaud Podor, Michaël Odorico, Christophe Bichara, Vincent Jourdain
Understanding the kinetic selectivity of carbon nanotube growth at the scale of individual nanotubes is essential for the development of high chiral selectivity growth methods. Here we demonstrate that homodyne polarization microscopy can be used for high-throughput imaging of long individual carbon nanotubes under real growth conditions (at ambient pressure, on a substrate) and with subsecond time resolution. Our in situ observations on hundreds of individual nanotubes reveal that about half of them grow at a constant rate all along their lifetime while the other half exhibits stochastic changes in growth rates and/or switches between growth, pause, and shrinkage. Statistical analysis shows that the growth rate of a given nanotube essentially varies between two values, with a similar average ratio (∼1.7) regardless of whether the rate change is accompanied by a change in chirality. These switches indicate that the nanotube edge or the catalyst nanoparticle fluctuates between different configurations during growth.