Mechanisms of titania nanoparticle mediated growth of turbostratic carbon nanotubes and nanofibers

30 Aug 2017

Turbostratic carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and nanofibers (CNFs) are synthesized by chemical vapor deposition using titania nanoparticle catalysts, and a quantitative lift-off model is developed to explain CNT and CNF growth. Micron-scale long turbostratic CNTs and CNFs were observed when acetylene is utilized as a carbon feedstock, and an alumina substrate was incorporated to improve the homogeneity of catalyst distribution. Turbostratic CNTs/CNFs are always found attached to nanoparticle corners, in the absence of the graphitic cage that is typically observed with metal nanoparticle-mediated growth. The observed morphology in turbostratic CNTs/CNFs supports a model in which several layers of graphene lift off from high-curvature corners of the titania nanoparticle catalysts. This model explains a key feature, which differentiates the growth of turbostratic CNTs/CNFs via non-metallic nanoparticles from growth using standard metal nanoparticle catalysts. The observed CNT/CNF growth and the accompanying model can impact the assessment of other metal-oxide nanoparticle catalysts, with the findings here contributing to a metal-free synthesis of turbostratic CNTs/CNFs.