Research ArticleChemistry

Atomic-scale structural identification and evolution of Co-W-C ternary SWCNT catalytic nanoparticles: High-resolution STEM imaging on SiO2

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Science Advances  24 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaat9459
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat9459


Recently, W-based catalysts have provided a promising route to synthesize single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with specific chirality, but the mechanism of the growth selectivity is vaguely understood. We propose a strategy to identify the atomic structure as well as the structure evolution of the Co-W-C ternary SWCNT catalyst. The key is to use a thin SiO2 film as the catalyst support and observation window. As the catalyst is uniformly prepared on this SiO2 film and directly used for the SWCNT synthesis, this method has an advantage over conventional methods: it creates an opportunity to obtain original, statistical, and dynamic understanding of the catalyst. As a technique, atomic-scale imaging directly on SiO2 serves as a powerful and versatile tool to investigate nanocrystals and high-temperature reactions; for the synthesis of SWCNTs, this work successfully visualizes the structure and evolution of the catalyst and illuminates the possible nucleation sites of the chirality-specific growth.

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