High-precision solid catalysts for investigation of carbon nanotube synthesis and structure

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Science Advances  30 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 40, eabb6010
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb6010


The direct growth of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with narrow chiral distribution remains elusive despite substantial benefits in properties and applications. Nanoparticle catalysts are vital for SWCNT and more generally nanomaterial synthesis, but understanding their effect is limited. Solid catalysts show promise in achieving chirality-controlled growth, but poor size control and synthesis efficiency hampers advancement. Here, we demonstrate the first synthesis of refractory metal nanoparticles (W, Mo, and Re) with near-monodisperse sizes. High concentrations (N = 105 to 107 cm−3) of nanoparticles (diameter 1 to 5 nm) are produced and reduced in a single process, enabling SWCNT synthesis with controlled chiral angles of 19° ± 5°, demonstrating abundance >93%. These results confirm the interface thermodynamics and kinetic growth theory mechanism, which has been extended here to include temporal dependence of fast-growing chiralities. The solid catalysts are further shown effective via floating catalyst growth, offering efficient production possibilities.

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