Effect of hydrocarbons precursors on the formation of carbon nanotubes in chemical vapor deposition
High-temperature decomposition of hydrocarbons may lead to the formation of carbon deposits. However in our present studies, we found that the morphology of carbon deposits over MgO supported Fe catalyst during chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process was closely related to the thermodynamic properties and chemical structures of hydrocarbon precursors. Six kinds of hydrocarbons (methane, hexane, cyclohexane, benzene, naphthalene and anthracene) were used as carbon precursors in this study. Methane which has a pretty simple composition and is more chemically stable was favorable for the formation of high-purity single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). For high-molecular weight hydrocarbons, it was found that the chemical structures rather than thermodynamic properties of carbon precursors would play an important role in nanotube formation. Specifically, the CVD processes of aromatic molecules such as benzene, naphthalene and anthracene inclined to the growth of SWNTs. While the cases of aliphatic and cyclic hydrocarbon molecules seemed a little more complicated. Based on different pyrolytic behaviors of carbon precursors and formation mechanism of SWNTs and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs), a possible explanation of the difference in CVD products was also proposed.
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