Today, a massive number of industries, including electronics, optics, drug delivery, and water purification, are forwards looking at an extraordinary scale with nanometer broad rolls of honeycomb-shaped sheets of graphite known as carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The various features such as convenient structure lightweight, superior thermal and electrical conductivities, immense mechanical strength, and stability put CNTs above all other material alternatives. In order to fulfill supply of CNTs increasing industrial demand, the production of it, needs to be increased drastically, and there lies the main issue of utilising CNTs.
Though scientists have been capable of growing individual CNTs about 50 cm in length, but when they attempt forests or arrays, they hit the growth of around 2 cm. It is because the catalyst, which is a significant factor that leads to CNT growth, deactivates or runs out before CNTs in a forest can grow any longer, thus driving up raw-material and monetary costs of CNT production and bullying to cap its industrial use.
Now, the scientists have come up with a ceiling breaking solution, which has been work out by a team of scientists from Japan. In their study, the team shows a novel approach to a conventional technique that yields CNT forests of record length: ~14 cm, which is seven times greater than the previous maximum. The researchers have mainly focused on creating a new technique that represses the structural change and let CNTs to grow for an extended period.
The team created a catalyst as per their findings. They added gadolinium (Gd) layer to the usual iron-aluminum oxide (Fe/Al2Ox) catalyst layered on a silicon (Si) substrate. This Gd layer prohibited the deterioration of the catalyst to a definite extent, let the forest grow up to 5 cm in length. To prevent catalyst deterioration, the team placed the catalyst in their actual chamber called the cold-gas chemical vapor deposition (CVD) chamber. There, they heated it to 750°C and supplied it with a small concentration of room temperature AI and Fe vapors. This allows the catalyst to go strong for around 26 hours, due to which dense CNT forest could grow to 14 cm. The various analyses show that the CNTs were of high purity and competitive strength.
This achievement not only conquers obstacles to the extensive industrial application of CNTs, but it opens new doors for more research on nanoscience. This simple but new method that radically prolongs catalyst lifetime by supplying ppm-level vapor sources is perceptive for catalyst engineering in other fields such as petrochemistry and nanomaterial crystal growth. The knowledge in this could be fundamental to make nanomaterials a ubiquitous reality.
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