The design of ultrafast routes to synthesis carbon nanotubes by microwave
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Carbon nanotubes are seamless cylinders of carbon skeletons with hexagonal honey comb structures. It also could be seen as the rolling of one or more layers of graphene. Because of this unique structure, it shows outstanding properties including high elastic modulus, large tensile strength, high thermal conductivity and semi-conductor electrical properties. Thus, it has drawn much attention from material researchers and can be engineered for many applications now and in the future in different fields such as energy storage, water purification, biosensors, microelectronics and being integrated into composite materials to achieve functionalization. Here, an ultrafast and more energy-efficient route to synthesis carbon nanotubes is designed. There are two major routes involved in this research. Firstly, carbon nanotubes can be produced by direct microwave irradiation of the solid mixture of ferrocene and graphite nanoplatelets. Here ferrocene serves as metal catalyst. Carbon nanotubes will form in 15-30 seconds. Also, zirconium is included in some samples as one component of bimetallic catalyst, and carbon nanotubes also formed in less than 1 minute. The irradiation of these mixtures in the presence of organic solvents is also studied. In the second route, substrates are introduced to direct the growth of carbon nanotubes. Normal flat glass slides and indium tin oxide (ITO) slides are dropcasted by catalyst and are heated with organic solvent in microwave oven. Carbon nanotubes could be observed with an irradiation time ranging from 40 seconds to 10 minutes. Besides, another unique structure, which is called carbon nanocoil, is also produced as a by-product. All the carbon nanotubes and nanocoils are characterized by SEM and TEM. The effect of microwave conditions on the formation and morphology of carbon nanotubes are also studied.
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